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Millie Odhiambo takes on Ichung’wah on sanitary pads debate

A photo collage of MPs Millie Odhiambo and Kimani Ichung'wah. PHOTO/ K24 Digital / @KIMANIICHUNGWAH/X
A photo collage of MPs Millie Odhiambo and Kimani Ichung'wah. PHOTO/ K24 Digital / @KIMANIICHUNGWAH/X

Suba North Member of Parliament Millie Odhiambo-Mabona on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, took on National Assembly leader of majority Kimani Ichumg’wah on matters concerning sanitary pads.

The Suba North MP took issue with Ichung’wah’s contributions on sanitary towels, saying only women MPs should be given time in Parliament to discuss such matters affecting them.

“Mr Speaker, I have been sitting here listening to the men talking about the sanitary towels issue that is in the Finance Bill 2024, and they are speaking with authority…don’t speak on our issues as women, let us be the ones to speak about sanitary towels,” she said.

Mabona took issue with the amendment on the Eco levy which exempted only locally manufactured sanitary towels from taxation, saying the local manufacturers lacked the capacity to supply all girls and women with adequate pads.

Sanitary pads demand

“We are the ones who know what works for us…while you are enabling the local manufacturers to produce sanitary towels, will we tell our menses to stop,” she quipped.

In his defence, Ichung’wah quoted a list of local sanitary pads manufacturers in the country, stating that they had the capacity to meet the supply needs of all women and girls in the country.

“Out of four established companies who are manufacturing sanitary pads, the four companies’ production output is 148 million pieces a month, while the local demand is 135 million pieces of sanitary towels a month,” Ichungwah stated.

He added: “When the eco levy was introduced on sanitary towels and diapers, Kenyans spoke to the finance committee and said they would become expensive.”

A sanitary towel. Image used for representation purposes only. PHOTO/Pexels

Mabona added that the sanitary towels could become expensive as a result of lower local supply, making it easier for smugglers to control the ‘underground’ supply from other countries.

Finance Bill 2024

On Tuesday, June 18, 2024, the Finance and National Planning Committee chairman Kimani Kuria announced a raft of changes made to the proposed Finance Bill 2024, following days of public participation.

Some of the thorny levies dropped by the bill were the 16 per cent tax on bread, the annual 2.5 per cent motor vehicle tax and the Eco Levy, which will only be imposed on imported finished products that contribute to e-waste and thus harm the environment when they are no longer in use.

“We are going to end up with a product in Parliament that came from the Executive and has been interrogated by the Legislature. Through public participation, the people of Kenya have had a say,” President Ruto said during the changes.

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