Tuesday, 17 January 2017

THE RISING COST OF SANITARY PADS


Sanitary Pad
Image: Panty Props

When you are a team of mainly women, you have to deal with many issues that generally affects us. One of such issues is our menstrual cycle. This affects us at least once every month. Yes, we used the word ‘affects’ because it does and because our cycle is a 28-day cycle, there is always the chance that we ‘see’ our periods twice in one more month.

Anyway, we are not here to lecture. We are here to rant the fudge off.

So first question. How many people have had to buy sanitary pads at ₦400 since December? We can see your hands in the air. So…second question. Are you as pissed the hell off as we are? Because we are mad as a mofo!

(Okay! Breathe. This post can’t be laced with too much expletives when you have only begun. So calm the hell down and write).

Okay. We are calm now. Let us do this properly.

So the price of sanitary pads recently went up by over a hundred percent. We will use Always Sanitary Pad for our example. The premium pads come in packs of seven or eight for small packs and sixteen for big or super packs. The small packs used to be sold for ₦170. It went up to ₦220 and later, a ₦30 increase. Now, it is sold at ₦400. The super packs now go for ₦800 and it is pegged to get to ₦1000. In one sentence, the end is near!

For people who do not get it, let us explain a bit.

A woman who has light flow can afford to use one small pack during her period if she has a four day flow and uses one pad in the morning and another at night. A lady with normal flow may have to change her pad every six hours, meaning that if she has a four-day flow, she needs to use the super pack for her monthlies. While most women fall into this category, a vast number of women fall into the heavy flow category. These women have to change their pads as often as once every three hours; translating to one small Always Pad per day. Collating that gives four packs if she has a four-day flow.

So using the example above, we can infer that women spend the following for their monthly menstrual cycle.


TYPE OF FLOW

NUMBER OF DAYS
DURATION OF PAD USE (HOURS)

NUMBER OF PADS/DAY

TOTAL NUMBER OF PADS 

TYPE OF PAD

COST
(₦)


LIGHT


4


12


2


8


ONE
8-IN-1 PACK



400


NORMAL


4


6


4


16


TWO
8-IN-1 PACK



800


HEAVY


4


3


8


32


FOUR
8-IN-1 PACK



1600

Of course these are all estimates as there are women who bleed for more than four days.

Why is this an issue? Well simple. Women menstruate EVERY MONTH and for most part, it isn’t a choice. We have to deal with pain or discomfort or the stress of having our hormones go haywire and then between three to seven days, our uterus makes us feel like we were bad for not giving it a baby. The only way out is getting pregnant (which is only a nine month reprieve), using drugs or menopause. You can see that our periods are not a luxury; they are a necessity!

Why then should the price of sanitary pads be so expensive? Is our menstruation a thing of luxury now? Is it necessary that the law of demand and supply apply here? And in a country where many girls don’t have access to sanitary pads, is it wise to alienate even more girls and women? We want to know because this rankles.

To make matters worse, some men have told us to go back to using rags or clothe pads. Some have even suggested we use banana leaves (we kid). While we want to pull our collective shoes and beat the brakes off these men, we will try not to. The general belief is that our mothers did it so why shouldn’t we. First off, our mothers used pads, not clothes. We learned the use of pads from them. However, even if they did, it is no reason to continue to do that now just because. Some of our parents drank camel urine for certain ailments. Do YOU do that now?  

Some people even went as far as saying it is not a national problem but a women’s problem. My question to such people is this; if something affects half the population of a country, doesn’t that qualify as a national problem? Oh! We forgot. We are Africans. Women don’t matter, right?

Anyway, our hygiene during and after our menstrual cycle is very important to us and shouldn’t cost us so much to keep ourselves clean when we bleed. We hope that Procter and Gamble, producers of Always Sanitary Pads (Nigeria) can lead the pack and bring the price back down. They are already making a lot of money as it is and it is almost unfair to have to ask for more. We know that almost everything now can be blamed on the recession but we hope that this phase passes quickly.

Reusable and Re-washable pads.
Image: AliExpress
And if they refuse to reduce the price, we should begin to think of an alternative. We heard of reusable cloth pads for the first time yesterday and though the idea sounds yucky, we will be forced to switch if we are forced to. The custom is always king. If we band together to hold Procter and Gamble and other pad producers accountable, they will have to do the right thing.

A woman’s sanitary needs are not a luxury. They shouldn’t be treated as such.

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