“The current economic crisis makes period poverty in Sri Lanka higher, even when period poverty rate is already about 50 per cent. With the rising price hike sanitary napkins are the first fall out the essentials lists,” noted Oxfam Gender Coordinator Lakmini Jayathilake.
Jayathilake noted that the shortage of sanitary napkins, affects women across the country.
“Currently, in Sri Lanka there are three to four manufacturers in the market. However all of them import raw materials for sanitary napkins. Owning to current import restrictions and forex crisis there is a scarcity in raw materials in the market. We have certain market leaders, who have 80-85 per cent market share in the sanitary napkins market, who also exercise a certain form of monopoly. Perhaps there is a chance of reducing the prices of sanitary napkins, but according to our research and the information we have because of the higher import levy the manufacturing cost is still high and it increases the price of sanitary napkins,” added Jayathilaka.
She also noted that this situation gravely affected women in the plantation sector, even more than both rural and urban sector.
“Rise of the cost of living and the unavailability of sanitary napkins in the market directly affect the women. Some people do not consider sanitary napkins as an essential. In the society there are several layers of inaccessibility of sanitary products.”
We spoke to a group of women in the Moneragala District. The agrarian community is in a deep trouble owing to one of the worst mistakes that the Government made in relation to fertiliser. Those who are used to produce about 52 bags of rice before the chemical fertiliser ban, now produce about 11. The women will not have enough money in the hands to buy sanitary napkins when they spare money from selling the harvest for basic needs of children and other members of the family, she added.
Jayathilaka further noted that the things that were affordable few months ago are not even available in the market and this situation will be aggravated further.
By Nabiya Vaffoor