Advocating for Affordability: The Story of Menstrual Hygiene Product Tax Advocacy in Four Countries

The term “period poverty” describes the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products, as well as their increased economic vulnerability due the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies.1 This social and economic barrier faced by women and girls around the globe can have a profound affect on their health, education, and wellbeing. There is growing advocacy momentum behind the reduction or removal of taxes on menstrual hygiene (MH) products to increase affordability, expand the number of women and girls who can regularly purchase them, and ultimately advance gender equity. In several countries around the world, MH product taxes have been removed in recent years.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Program Advocacy & Communications (PAC) team commissioned Global Health Visions (GHV) to examine how advocacy has contributed to MH tax policy changes and develop case studies on four low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In collaboration with GHV, the Gates Foundation selected Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa for in-depth research, to capture a wide range of tax advocacy experiences. In this report, GHV identifies commonalities and key insights on tax advocacy across countries, as well as recommendations for donor investment.