On #FreeSanitaryPads – We Must Do the Little We Can For the Female Gender

Free sanitary pads for Nigerians - elsieisy blog

It’s funny how we decide to fight each other when we should put heads together to find lasting solution to the problems we have as Nigerians. Sometimes we fail to realize that these things we fight each other for/against are beyond our selfish gain and interest.

‪There are real people who are bearing the grunt of our ability or inability to make things right. It’s easy to sit behind our phones to support the #FreeSanitaryPad or the #EndThe9jaTaxOnPads. It’s very commendable but when we begin to make it personal, it becomes very appalling. Nigerian market has over 12 sanitary pad brands nationwide. Some play nationwide while some play regional. We all can agree that Always pads produced by P & G are the top players with large market share. A rise in demand for sanitary pad has been recorded over the years, caused by boom in our population – Which is why we are fighting for the nationwide embrace of Life/family planning but some people will say we are teaching people bad behavior. This is topic for another day.

Instead of being on each other’s throat and calling out feminists, why not conduct proper research to know if what you are fighting for is economically feasible? The call for Free/subsidized/Tax free sanitary pads have been a worldwide concern. It is not a Nigerian thing. India in July this year, declared Tampons and Sanitary pad Tax free after rigorous advocacy. Sanitary products were taxed at 12% — a move that was highly criticised by campaigners, activists, and masses alike. While I’m not very sure there is Tax on sanitary pad in Nigeria as few report claim there isn’t, the price for a sanitary pad is a big cause for concern especially as Nigeria overtakes India as country with highest number of extremely poor people in the world.  This simply means the number of girls/Ladies/women who will not be able to afford sanitary pad keeps going high. There was a time when I was so broke that I couldn’t afford sanitary pad for the month.

I started with always sanitary pad, God bless my mother but it became luxury at some point in my life. That month I remember I had to make do with toilet roll. It was the most uncomfortable period for me. I’m sorry if I have to mention “Always” a lot, it’s not a sponsored post but that’s the product I use comfortably. Always used to be sold at N250 and is now sold for N400. $1 = N363. Technically, a pack of 7/8 sanitary pad goes for approximately $1. I reached out to few family and friends living in the abroad and they say they buy sanitary pad from an average price  $7 with 18 sanitary pads. You can do the calculations. The price in Nigeria is technically not exorbitant.

While it’s fair to expect some form of aid from the government, taking a cue from the Scottish government (Scotland ‘first country in world’ to give free sanitary products to women on low incomes), our real problem is poverty! Last year,  P&G expanded its footprint in Nigeria by commissioning a state-of-the-art production line for Always brand at its manufacturing site in Agbara, Ogun State, which in turn gives more jobs and economic growth. But we must note that no company will come into business to run at a loss. Money must be made as there is something called cost of production and business running cost. The sanitary pad producers are not Father Christmas. Money must be made for salaries to be paid.

With time, I have come to understand it clearly when people say – politics and governance is everyone’s business. The state of the economy affects you and I directly or indirectly whether we like it or not. This is why it’s important to lend a voice when an individual or an organization raises an issue. You think it’s not your business until we have to buy sanitary pad for N1000 and then you start asking questions you should have asked long time ago.

Without digressing, it is important to push and support NGOs that are working tirelessly to provide young girls with Sanitary pads. Donate as little as N100 when you can, it will go a long way. Don’t just make noise on social media.

I remember how I had excess pocket bible when I was in secondary school because they kept handing us bible almost every term. How about substituting these bibles for sanitary pads and/diverting some funds to getting pads to young girls? Imagine I was given three packs of sanitary pads every term. It means I will have enough for the whole term. Instead of sharing salt and pepper for your fake campaign, share sanitary pads instead.

Until we have people to strongly chant the cause of girls in the government, set out funds from these crazy figures allocated for projects we do not see to help save the girl child, we must do the little we can.

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