Being a woman on periods, in this economy, is not easy.
Being a woman is not easy, no matter where in the world you are. And it is even harder being a woman on her period.
In a country where a substantial amount of women live below the poverty line, being able to afford sanitary napkins is a luxury. But does that mean they need to be so heavily taxed to make them even more unaffordable for the average Pakistani?
The current tax on sanitary napkins in Pakistan is 12%. Any tax is too high on these products, in my opinion, are already so expensive. So I decided to calculate exactly how much a Pakistani woman can expect to spend on her periods in her entire lifetime.
Periods usually begin at the age of 13 and end around the age of 51, when a woman enters her menopausal stage.
That is 38 years of managing periods!
A woman’s period may last from anywhere between 3-7 days. But the average time is 5 days. And since it occurs every month, a woman in her life must suffer through this horrendous time for about 2,280 days.
And the period itself is not the entire ordeal a woman has to go through monthly. There is also the dreaded Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) that a woman has to suffer through before the actual period and that time has its own problems that you need to deal with.
So let’s break down everything a woman needs because of her periods:
The prices for sanitary napkins range from anywhere between PKR 80 to PKR 250 per pack. So if we take an average, the price comes down to about PKR 165 per pack and each period, on average a woman uses 1.5 packs. So the cost per period is PKR 247.5 and in her entire lifetime, a woman will spend: PKR 112, 860 on pads alone. Yep. And that’s without counting for inflation or further increases in taxes, sis.
2. Pain Killers
Usually, women eat Buscopan to help their period pain. One pack for it costs about PKR 40, so the total amount on average a woman might spend on painkillers to manage the pain which comes with her periods is PKR 18,240. I think I am going to need some hajmola to help me digest this number.
Your favourite underwear being destroyed because of your period is inevitable. If at least one panty is unusable after periods and has to be replaced, an average pair of underwear cost PKR 250, the cost of underwear for women per lifetime will be PKR 114,000, YEP.
4. Hot Water Bottle
Heating pads are not as common in our part of the world, but we do get our fair share of hot water bottles, and let’s say a woman on average will use 1 hot water bottle for 5 years, so 8 water bottles over their lifetime. On average a hot water bottle costs PKR 350 so that’s a total of PKR 2800.
6. Acne Treatments
During PMS, women get the worse skin possible and breakouts are apparently necessary. To combat these, women get acne treatments, medicine, and facials. The average cost per year for these can range from woman to woman. So we can say the average price might be PKR 5000 per year. That’s about PKR 190,000 over a woman’s lifetime. Wow.
So what is the grand total? Drum roll, please.
That is a lot of money. And let’s be honest, this is only a figure the privileged few can afford in our country. Most women have no money or even access to sanitary napkins or other aids to help them manage their menstrual cycles. The government really needs to step up and give subsidies for menstrual hygiene products and introduce them to government schools for free for young girls to use.
If this doesn’t happen, then women in rural areas will keep on using old rags to manage periods which itself is incredibly dangerous and makes them susceptible to infections and problems later on.
Women’s health is a topic which is vastly ignored, and honestly, if we can get more women informed on these processes and help them manage their periods in a hygienic way, issues related to giving birth which are so widespread in our country might be avoided as well.
Who’s going to take responsibility for women’s period health? I know that the topic is a big taboo in society but if we keep ignoring it the way we are, the mortality rate for mothers giving birth and their children won’t improve either.
What do you think about how much it costs to be a woman? Let us know in the comments.
Cover Image Source: The Malaysian Insider