There is a global call to action to end the tax on tampons. Bills are being put forward across the US and the UK with advocates and politicians clamoring to end a tax code that so obviously and unfairly penalizes women and girls. In some states in the US, prescription drugs like Viagra are not taxed, but tampons are. There is simply no justification in that.
What many people overlook, or they simply do not know, is that Kenya was the FIRST nation in the world to end the tampon tax in 2004, and also ended an import duty on sanitary pads in 2011, helping to reduce costs significantly for low-income women and girls.
What's more is that through the support of our organization's advocacy efforts, in 2010, Kenya became the first country in the WORLD to provide free sanitary pads in schools, another important piece of legislation that is now on the docket in New York.
And although it was female leaders of the Kenyan government that led the charge to have the tampon tax abolished and provided for free in schools, they have yet to see the media attention and accolades that they deserve.
I have been thinking about why these achievements have not received the same ink as those in North America and Europe.
My conclusion: What happens in Africa (and the countries within) is something that happens over there...to them.
Africa is the "other" that is too often overlooked. While it is the second most populous continent rich with history, diversity, and innovation, the successes achieved and records broken fail to be recognized in equal measure.
We need to shift that paradigm. Let's not view Africa as over there. America and Africa need each other as thought partners and change makers, together in the fight for equal rights, menstrual equity, and the empowerment of women and girls.
The call to action to make pads and tampons more accessible is a global movement. And that starts with advocates, the press, and the general public also turning their attention to their sisters in arms who may be far away, but so very much the same.