By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
16 January 2013
A gender rights group has called on government to intervene and force retailers to cut the price of sanitary towels, in line with an import duty waiver.
Two years ago then Finance Minister Tendai Biti scrapped import duty on sanitary towels following a petition by rights groups who said most girls and women were too poor to afford the monthly cost of pads, cotton wool or tampons.
The Southern African HIV & AIDS Information Service (SAFAIDS), which led the campaign, said most women and girls were using rags and leaves as alternatives as they cannot afford the $1-$5 cost of sanitary towels charged by retailers.
“Despite government scrapping duty on these essential items retailers have not reduced their prices,” Renias Mundingi, programmes manager at SAFAIDS told SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture programme on Thursday.
Beatrice Savadye, also of SAFAIDS, said if the import duty charge was removed from the retail price, women would be able to buy pads for 60 cents
“We are lobbying and negotiating with retailers to cut their prices. But it will help if government also came up with enforcement mechanisms for its policy announcements.
“While $1 may not mean much for someone on a salary, most of these girls do not have any means and most of them lose 7 days each month incapacitated, with some even failing to attend classes because they are on their period but can’t afford cotton wool,” Savadye added.
The two officials said bodies such as the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe should have the power to enforce price cuts.