A government that ran a campaign ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ actually missed the point by not exempting tax on sanitary napkins under the GST, the Congress today said, accusing the Centre of not being gender sensitive. The Congress said on one hand India was on its way to script history by implementing the Goods and Services Tax, but on the other women empowerment remained completely ignored.
The BJP government, despite repeated demands, has failed to make the GST ‘gender sensitive’, Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said. “The government is insensitive to the demand of half of India’s population by not exempting the tax on sanitary napkins,” she said.
Dev, who spearheaded a campaign for exempting sanitary napkins from imposition of tax, said the GST could have been instrumental in making an important intervention by making sanitary napkins tax free or minimally taxed.
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“A government that runs a campaign ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ actually missed the point. While child sex ratio and high percentage of women staying out of the education system was targeted under this slogan the complete non application of mind is apparent,” she said in a statement.
“In my meeting with Union Ministers J P Nadda, Maneka Gandhi and Arun Jaitley no one seemed to disagree that menstruation is still a stigma,” she said, lamenting that only 12 per cent women in the country use napkins and poor menstrual hygiene is a cause of serious health issues and death for women especially in rural India.
Dev said affordability and accessibility are two primary reasons for such dismal figures of women using hygienic napkins.
She also noted that equality of opportunity cannot be a reality unless girls are equipped with better to access these opportunities. She also said that poor menstrual hygiene impacts women’s ‘Right to Life’.
Dev said menstruation is an involuntary physical process outside the control of women and use of napkins is a necessity and yet the GST council did not treat it at par with other essential commodities.
The Congress leader said the Constitution permits special laws for women and children and yet the demand of half the population of India of making sanitary affordable and tax-free was rejected by the BJP-led government.