We have seen the Government taking a very supportive and progressive stand on improving menstrual health and awareness in India. A very strong PR campaign by the Government, making sanitary napkins GST free, and sustaining a free sanitary pads distribution for school girls clearly show the level of investment and importance being given, for improvement of feminine health and hygiene in the country. Making the category GST free was a big step in supporting women consumers, and in helping keep the prices affordable.
A few roadblocks still remain in ensuring affordable supply of #makeinindia sanitary napkins in India. “There are import duties on all raw materials that go into making of quality sanitary napkins. Most of these materials are not available in India, and hence we are reliant on imports. These raw materials attract import duties of up to 10%, followed by IGST , which all add to the cost of the product, doing away with these, will further help in managing the cost of a quality product; and help us make the offering more affordable to women in our country,” said Amar Tulsiyan, Founder and Chairman Niine Sanitary Napkins. Companies are also dependent on imports of machineries for manufacturing of sanitary napkins, which also attract significant import duties.
Sanitary napkins market has so far been dominated by multinational companies and imported sanitary napkins, with the last few years seeing Indian manufacturers also entering the space. Niine sanitary napkins entered this space two years back, and was the first brand to address safe disposal of menstrual hygiene with biodegradable disposal bags with each sanitary napkin at an affordable price of Rs 28. Abolishing import duties on machinery and raw materials needed for #makeinindia, would give a stronger boost to Indian Industry too.
There are numerous barriers that plague this category. Right from shame and a feeling of inadequacy in menstruating women, shying away of retailers from this category, to de-prioritization of this monthly spend from the family basket. Rs 20-40 is all it takes today to ensure safe menstrual hygiene. Freeing the category from import and other duties can help #makeinindia companies ensure more affordable products for women who are not using these sanitary napkins or shying away due to cost barriers.
Any support lent to Sanitary Napkins and Menstrual Hygiene Industry goes a long way in protecting girls and women against cervical cancer, infertility and chronic infections, all easing the related medical burden on the country.