Rising Costs of Sanitary Pads Worsen Menstrual Hygiene Challenges in Nigeria

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A report by Premium Times highlights the increasing difficulty Nigerian women face in maintaining menstrual hygiene due to the soaring costs of sanitary pads. Sadiya Maikasuwa, a 40-year-old mother, shared her struggles with the rising expenses, noting that she has reverted to using old methods due to the high prices of sanitary products. The economic crisis, fueled by inflation and policy changes such as the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the naira, has significantly impacted the cost of living in Nigeria.

 

Inflation in Nigeria reached a generational high of 33.69 percent in April, exacerbating period poverty among women. Despite the 2020 Finance Bill, which exempted sanitary pads from Value Added Tax (VAT), the prices have surged from an average of N450 in 2021 to N1,500 in 2024. This increase has made it challenging for many of the estimated 37 million Nigerian women and girls to afford essential menstrual hygiene products.

 

Retailers across various states, including Abuja, Enugu, Plateau, Lagos, and Sokoto, confirmed the substantial price hikes. Products like Softcare, Molped, and Virony have all seen significant increases, with some brands doubling their prices within months. Consequently, many women are opting for less expensive alternatives or reverting to using cloth cuttings.

 

Advocates like Anikeade Funke-Treasure of the Sanitary Pad Media Campaign emphasize the impact of these rising costs on menstrual hygiene. She argues for a comprehensive menstrual health policy by the Nigerian government, which would include free menstrual pads for schoolgirls and menstrual leave for women in the workplace. The inflationary pressures threaten to reverse the gains made in menstrual hygiene awareness and adoption, potentially worsening the situation for many Nigerian women.

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