Free to flow for a nation free from period poverty | Sunday Observer

Free to flow for a nation free from period poverty

12 September, 2021

At present, period poverty has become a controversial issue in the country. Regrettably, many young girls and women have been ostracised from basic activities mainly because of the cultural shame attached to menstruation.

As a remedy to this social issue, former Western Provincial Councilor Malsha Kumaranatunge has initiated a project " Free to flow" with the objective of eradicating the prevailing period poverty in Sri Lanka.

The current situation

The highest taxes have been imposed on sanitary napkins in Sri Lanka.

Needless to say, that the highest tax is an unbearable burden for the daily wage earners whose livelihoods dried up overnight.

As mentioned by Malsha Kumaranatunge, the imposed taxes on sanitary napkins had increased over 100%. Back in 2018 the women's rights divisions had taken measures to reduce the unbearable taxes to 62%.

Currently the effective tax rate remains 53%. Although some countries have taken steps to remove the taxes on sanitary napkins, in Sri Lanka a pack of 10 sanitary napkins costs Rs 520.

No doubt that this is not affordable for the daily wage earners and low-income families.

Significance of free to flow

'Free to flow' initiated by Malsha Kumaranatunge is a godsend for the eradication of this social issue.

This project aims to distribute reusable sanitary napkins to the females aged between 15 and 40 in low-income families across the country.

The reusable napkins are up to the required standards and ensure the women's health and safety.

If regarded from the environmental aspects, these eco-friendly napkins can be reused for one and a half year.

The absorbing flannel attached to the napkin can fight against any infections.

Objectives of free to flow

When asked about the objectives of the project, Malsha said, " Most male politicians in Sri Lanka treat and impose taxes on sanitary napkins as if for a luxury item.

Menstruation is not a luxury item.

It is a natural and biological process that happens to every woman. Sanitary napkins should be made available for free to women under the national health service, just like other medicines and services.

As I don't see that it will happen any time soon, I wanted to ensure that the privilege of getting the access to safe and hygienic sanitary napkins is not limited to urban or middle-class women.

"All in all, it is evident that this bona fide project " Free to Flow " implemented by Malsha Kumaranatunge can dawn a better future for the Sri Lankan women.