Government to supply Czech charities with 2 million menstrual pads

Despite this gesture, womens'-rights activists say that Czechia's value-added tax for feminine hygiene products is far too high. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.09.2023 15:03:00 (updated on 29.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

In a significant move to address menstrual poverty in the Czech Republic, the Czech Federation of Food Banks has today announced it will receive a generous donation of 2 million menstrual pads from the State Material Reserves Administration.

This humanitarian effort, approved by the government following a proposal from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, aims to provide essential menstrual hygiene products to those in need. This initiative builds upon a similar effort in November 2021 when the administration first provided menstrual pads to food banks.

Women in Czechia are disadvantaged

The European Parliament, in its resolution on gender equality and tax policy dating back to January 2019, highlighted the persisting issue of menstrual poverty in the EU. An estimated one in 10 girls across the EU struggles to afford basic sanitary needs – this rate is even higher in Czechia. 

Several political parties and organizations in the Czech Republic have advocated for action on this issue. The opposition movements ANO and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, along with organizations like the Czech Women's Lobby, have called for menstrual aids to be included in the government's consolidation package with a reduced value-added tax (VAT) rate of 12 percent, down from the current 21 percent rate.

Notably, Czechia also has one of the highest VAT rates for feminine hygiene products out of the whole EU.

More needs to be done, people say

Hana Stelzerová, the director of the Czech Women's Lobby, expressed her disbelief that menstrual supplies, an essential item for nearly half of the population, were taxed at the same rate as non-essential items like tobacco and alcohol.

She emphasized that reducing the VAT rate on menstrual products is the first step towards addressing menstrual poverty, as these items constitute a significant portion of monthly expenses for many families.

Representatives from the Pirates and Christian Democrats parties also supported the call for reduced VAT rates on menstrual supplies. However, Jakub Michálek, the chairman of the Pirates parliamentary club, cited a lack of sufficient agreement among coalition parties as an obstacle to incorporating this change into the draft consolidation package.

Despite the ongoing debate surrounding tax policy, the commitment to providing two million menstrual pads to the Czech Federation of Food Banks is a positive step in the fight against menstrual poverty. This initiative not only ensures that essential menstrual hygiene products are available to those in need but also raises awareness about the broader issue of gender equality and the importance of addressing the challenges faced by women and girls in society. 

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