Govt. proposes doing away with import duty on sanitary products

KOICA Bhutan World Friends Program Office in Thimphu handed over menstrual products to Ministry of Education for distribution to remote boarding school across the country.

Sonam Penjor

As Bhutan observes menstrual hygiene day on 28 May, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering shared a heartfelt message and the government’s support to Red Dot Bhutan and informed that the government is planning to propose doing away with the 30 percent import duty imposed on sanitary products this Parliament session.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said, “I have no doubt that my colleagues in the government and the Parliament will support the submission.”

Further, Lyonchhen said that it is a small, yet significant gesture to enhance availability and accessibility of basic sanitary items that would go a long way in infusing comfort and confidence in the lives of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.

“It is an honour to be a part of this initiative. I would like to thank HRH Princess Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck for leading the Red Dot Bhutan campaign that aims at creating awareness about this biological process that has unfortunately become a barrier for our women and daughters over time,” said Lyonchhen.

The Patron of Red Dot Bhutan, Her Royal Highness (HRH) Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck, wrote on the official Facebook page of Menstrual Hygiene Bhutan: “As we mark the International Menstrual Hygiene Day, I call upon the Royal Government of Bhutan, our development partners, and every individual to support our initiatives to ensure an inclusive menstrual health management. Together, we must strive towards a society where menstruation will not create stress, shame, or become a hindrance to our girls and women in fulfilling their aspirations.”

Meanwhile, to mark the menstrual hygiene day, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Alumni Bhutan with support from KOICA Bhutan World Friends Program Office in Thimphu handed over menstrual products to Ministry of Education for distribution to remote boarding school across Bhutan.

According to the press release from the KOICA Bhutan World Friends Program Office, the distribution to remote boarding schools was done because it is difficult in getting the pad in remote places due to Covid-19 pandemic. Further this is to support local entrepreneurs and also to introduce the reusable pad – for its minimal impact on the environment.

KOICA Alumni BHUTAN (KAB) is a non-governmental organization established in 2015 consisting of public officials, public individuals among others who have participated in training course in the Republic of Korea through KOICA fellowship program with full support of Korean government.

While KOICA is a governmental agency of the Republic of Korea (ROK), founded in 1991 and established its volunteer office called ‘World Friends Program Office’ in Thimphu in December 2019. KOICA implements grant aids and technical cooperation, supporting the socio-economic development of partner countries on behalf of the Korean government.

Additionally, Lyonchhen said that if delved deeper into the physiology of menstruation, it can be construed as the beginning of a beautiful process, the very onset of life. The female body prepares for a conducive environment to receive and nurture the fertilized ovum into a living organism called human being.

“With all necessary ingredients for us to grow, what is shed as menstruation would have been our first home! I cannot help but wonder how this natural process can be demeaning and disgraceful for women and girls,” added the Lyonchhen.

Lyonchhen further said that it is important to note that our women lose so much nutrition and energy through menstruation.

UNICEF Representative to Bhutan, Dr Will Parks said, “Menstruation is a natural fact and access to safe and dignified menstruation is fundamental for all girls and women to reach their full potential.”

He said UNICEF welcomes the patronage of HRH Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck for Red Dot Bhutan and commends the Royal Government of Bhutan in proposing to exempt taxes on all sanitary products. UNICEF remains committed to support the Royal Government of Bhutan in ensuring inclusive menstrual health management for all girls and women.

Lyonchhen said that many may not notice but they also feel depressed and experience mood swing. It is a subtle, psychological reaction for not having conceived that month. These are some designs of nature which cannot be disputed.

“Therefore, the monthly period of our female companion is a profound experience that deserves nothing else but our respect.”

“While I have no doubt that such campaigns will make huge difference in understanding and acceptance of menstruation, I urge our women and girls to be as confident and maintain utmost self-respect too,” added the Lyonchhen.