Period poverty: Govt studying subsidies for sanitary pads, says deputy minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Research is being conducted on subsidies for sanitary pads, says Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (pic).

The Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister said the research is expected to be completed in October.

“The ministry is of the view that extensive research is needed on subsidies for sanitary pads and to get an actual picture of the period poverty problem faced by women, especially those from the B40 community,” she said during the oral question and answer session.

According to Siti Zailah (PN-Rantau Panjang), the research findings will also allow the government to develop a comprehensive and targeted solution to the problem.

She was responding to a question by Charles Santiago (PH-DAP) who asked whether the ministry has plans to introduce period leaves as well as subsidies on sanitary pads for women from the B40 community.

In his supplementary question, Charles said unfortunately the ministry was lagging behind compared to other countries which were already taking “forward” steps to resolve the problem.

“I hoped that the ministry would have announced that the research was already done and the measures would be implemented in the near future,” he said.

He also said that the ministry would not disappoint women from “Keluarga Malaysia” and would give its commitment on when the research would be completed and measures to tackle the issue be implemented.

Siti Zailah said being a woman, the ministry is cognisant of the issues faced by women.

She added that the research would include 57,000 respondents and that no study had been conducted on the issue before.

Period poverty had grabbed headlines recently, especially after the movement control order (MCO).

On period leave, she said the matter needs to be scrutinised and requires engagement with stakeholders such as the Human Resources Ministry, Finance Ministry, Public Service Department, unions and employers groups.

This is because period leave does not only involve the well-being of women but it also has an implication on productivity and the country’s economy,” she said.

She added that currently there are medical leaves and rest leaves available to women.

Meanwhile, on increasing compassionate leave for women after the death of their spouse, Siti Zailah said Prime Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that they should be given “space” for mourning with certain incentives.

It was recently announced that civil servants who have lost their spouses will be allowed to work from home for two weeks after their compassionate leave ends.

She was responding to a supplementary question by Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (PN-Pasir Mas) on whether the government has plans to increase compassionate leave, which currently ranges from 3-7 days for recently widowed women. He went on to add that PAS-led Kelantan had already implemented a one-month leave.