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It’s Time Tanzania Removes Taxes on Sanitary Pads

This must be part of a broader strategy that includes improving infrastructure, providing education, and engaging the community on proper menstrual hygiene management.

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A lack of adequate guidance on menstrual management, water, disposal, private changing facilities and sanitary hygiene materials leaves schoolgirls in Tanzania with limited options for healthy personal hygiene during monthly menses. 

When menstruating, schoolgirls would rather stay home than be uncomfortable, inactive and embarrassed due to inadequate menstrual hygiene management (MHM) facilities at schools. 

A friendly and supportive MHM environment that provides education, absorbent sanitary materials and adequate water, sanitation, and health care waste management (WASH) facilities is essential to equal opportunity for all girls. As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene Day, celebrated on May 28th every year, some Tanzanian girls are still struggling to stay in school due to menstruation. 

Tanzania is a country where the government has set up centres that distribute free condoms to promote safe sex. However, it is the same country that reintroduced a tax on sanitary pads and tampons, a significant barrier to quality menstrual hygiene management.

When girls can manage menstruation at school in supportive environments, they are less likely to be absent and can concentrate better in class, potentially improving their educational experience.

READ MORE: Child Marriage: The Bogeyman Terrorizing Tanzanian Girls

Poor menstrual hygiene practices can lead to potential long-term consequences such as dropping out of school, early marriage, restriction of mobility, capacity to act independently, menstrual irregularities, and other reproductive and mental health problems. 

Moreover, menstrual irregularities during the reproductive age group are common in many gynaecological diseases, such as endometriosis, which may affect mental and psychological well-being in the long run.

There are multiple challenges girls face in managing menstruation due to poor awareness about safe practices, limited access to sanitary products and lack of support from teachers or family members. 

Schools have emerged as important delivery platforms for health promotion interventions. However, more consistent efforts are needed to improve the health outcomes of young girls.

Distorted perceptions, ignorance, and unsafe practices regarding menstruation are not uncommon among school girls in Tanzania. It is therefore important to educate and encourage safe and hygienic practices among adolescent girls and bring them out of traditional beliefs, misconceptions and restrictions regarding menstruation management. 

READ MORE: Tanzania Must Undertake Legal Reforms to Safeguard Women’s Reproductive Rights

For example, some girls are carrying used menstrual absorbent pads back home from school because of some misinformed beliefs. It is worth including a wide spectrum of stakeholders in developing information and education for the promotion of positive attitudes towards menstruation hygiene management, which not only targets girls, but boys as well. 

Education programmes should also address the sensibilities of female students who, at least initially may feel shy and embarrassed to talk about menstruation. This is because menstruation is not a subject of discussion for the majority of African communities, which leads to several misconceptions and practices. 

It is also important that strategies for menstruation education must include separate sessions for girls and boys and a level of knowledge of the child’s respective age. It is preferable to use female teachers or matrons to educate girls.

A multi-faceted approach is necessary to ensure that schools in Tanzania are truly equipped to manage menstrual hygiene. Removing taxes on sanitary pads is a critical step that can make a significant difference.

However, this must be part of a broader strategy that includes improving infrastructure, providing education, and engaging the community. By taking these steps, the Tanzanian government can help ensure that all girls have the opportunity to attend school with dignity and without interruption. 

READ MORE: Police in Lindi Accused of Covering Up Child Sexual Abuse Scandal Involving Its Officer

Menstrual hygiene management should be an integral part of the education curriculum, and to achieve this, guidance regarding menstrual management for adolescent girls in school is a much-needed step. 

Menstrual products for emergencies should be available free of cost in schools and educational institutes. Education policy can be developed to make schools MHM-friendly environments where girls can feel comfortable and safe whether menstruating or not.
Baraka Thomas is a legal and social commentator from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is available at or on X as @BarakaMasubo. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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