Shoprite introduces VAT-free “sanitary pad subsidy”

Shoprite will be offering Ultrex pads for R10.99 through what it calls a “sanitary pad subsidy”.

Customers wil be able to buy a packet of Ultrex pads for the price it would have cost them were it not subject to value-added tax (VAT) of 15 percent.

Shoprite said in a statement that they will be offering the Ultra Plus range and the Ultra Slim pads for R10.99 and that the offer is not a promotion but will run indefinitely.

“This is not a short-term promotion, but a commitment by Shoprite to provide its customers with greater access to affordable basic hygiene products and necessities,” the statement said.

Access to sanitary pads affects education

Access to affordable, reliable and safe menstrual absorbents such as sanitary pads and panties are outside the reach of many schoolgirls living in rural communities in South Africa.

Menstruation and a lack of effective menstrual management have been identified as a barrier to education for girls and young women. Studies documented that millions of girls in South Africa miss at least two to four days of school per month because they do not have access to safe and adequate absorbents.

Several studies by NGOs have highlighted important everyday challenges associated with managing menstruation in school environments in rural areas where a lack of access to toilets with running water is the norm.

Without access to sanitary pads and proper toilet facilities, the general health of women, specifically young girls is adversely affected.

Women’s Rights Groups and Human Rights activists across the country have called for the provision of free sanitary pads to women and girls who can’t afford them.

VAT panel recommendation

In early August, a VAT panel recommended a zero-rating on a number of items including sanitary towels. The Finance Ministry said the panel recommended that white bread, flour, school uniforms, nappies and sanitary towels should be made VAT-free items.

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