Gender Budget Watchdog Network Declaration on Menstrual Hygiene Day
28th of May marks Menstrual Hygiene Day. The symbolism of the date lies in the fact that the average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, and women menstruate an average of 5 days.
Menstruation is a natural process in which the endometrium is expelled from the uterus if fertilization did not occur, and menstrual products are essential for all menstruating women and girls. To this day menstruation is still stigmatized, connoted to shame, and often recommended to be kept secret.
Public finance management systems entail very important tools that are used for policy development to govern the use of public funds across all sectors. In many cases, these policies can be gender transformative or gender negative; thus, they ought to be informed by a gender analysis taking into account that all men, women, boys, and girls, have different needs and priorities. An important public finance management policy is taxation.
Taxation of menstrual products, same as other luxury goods, shows a lack of understanding for the basic needs of women in our societies and lack of adequate response to those needs. This is a gender negative policy and creates bigger financial gaps between women and men, contributes directly to menstrual poverty, and limits access to menstrual hygiene products for a substantial number of women.
Hereby, the Gender Budget Watchdog Network (GBWN) in the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova, would like to contribute to raising awareness of Menstrual Health and Hygiene and Menstrual Hygiene Management, and in order to help prevent menstrual poverty and increase accessibility to menstrual hygiene products we demand the reduction or abolishment of the taxation of menstrual products.
The Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate in each of the GBWN countries is the following:
- Albania – 20%
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – 17%
- Kosovo – 20%
- Moldova – 20%
- Montenegro – 21%
- North Macedonia – 18%
- Serbia – 20%
By our attempts at both raising awareness of this particular issue, as well as our advocacy toward policy changes, we at GBWN stand in solidarity with all women facing social stigma and the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and declare that we will focus our work on de-stigmatization and equal access to menstrual hygiene management for all!
Menstruation is not a taboo! Menstruation products are essential products for women! Remove VAT on menstrual hygiene products now!