By Diana Baptista, Nita Bhalla, Lin Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Thomson Reuters Foundation
16 Min Read
Pads still out of reach after tax cuts
Research finds manufacturers and retailers profiting
Advocates say strict implementation key to success
Campaigns for free pads gather pace globally
By Diana Baptista, Nita Bhalla and Lin Taylor
MEXICO CITY/NAIROBI/LONDON, May 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - L ilian Makau was 17 when she started having sex with an older man in her neighbourhood in Kenya in exchange for something she desperately needed but could rarely afford: sanitary pads.
Within months, she was pregnant and had to quit school to look after the baby, her dreams of becoming a doctor shattered.
“It’s the issue of pads that got me into this mess,” Makau, now 20, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I had a lot of dreams which were not possible for me to achieve simply because of not being able to afford pads,” she said, sitting in the offices of a local charity in Kibera, a crowded informal settlement in Nairobi, the capital.
Kenya scrapped its 16% value-added tax (VAT) on period products in 2004, becoming the first country to do so and winning global praise. Several years later, it removed the import duty and VAT on the raw materials used to make pads.
But in a country where a third of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, a packet of sanitary pads - costing about 70 Kenyan shillings ($0.51) - remains far out of reach. Two-thirds of women and girls in the East African nation still cannot afford pads, a 2016 study sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found.
In a green-walled community meeting room tucked away in Kibera’s labyrinthine alleys, a group of women and girls gathered one day in April to receive a packet of free pads distributed by SUPERB, a charity promoting menstrual hygiene.
“There is a desperate need for pads. When we get funding or are given a donation, we distribute the pads to the women and girls here,” said SUPERB’s founder Yasmin Nassur.
She said scrapping the VAT “has made little difference”, with pads continuing to be unattainable for most.
“People still simply can’t afford it.”
The problems faced by Kenyan women demonstrate the patchy results of measures to scrap or reduce the so-called tampon tax in nearly 50 countries - from Kenya and Canada to Colombia, India and Rwanda.
As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene Day on Sunday, a Thomson Reuters Foundation analysis of dozens of research studies and price data from several countries shows the tax cuts have not always led to lower costs.
Sometimes the cuts have benefited retailers and manufacturers instead, research has found, doing little to help the roughly 500 million women, girls and other menstruating people who face period poverty worldwide.
That means torn up rags, pieces of foam mattresses, newspaper and cotton wool remain the only option for many women and girls, despite the risk of reproductive and urinary tract infections posed by such makeshift alternatives.
When Kenyan teenager Sheilah Musimbi has her period, there are no toilets at her school to change the rags she uses.
Terrified of bleeding onto her clothing and being shamed by her teacher and classmates, she sometimes stays at home instead - missing days of school at a crucial stage in her education.
“My parents have passed away and my grandmother, who sells maize, is the one that looks after me,” said Musimbi, 16, as she sat on the edge of the lower bunk bed in her one-room brick and concrete home in Nairobi’s Kawangware informal settlement.
“There’s hardly money for food, so how can we buy pads?”
One in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa skip school during their period, which can add up to as much as 20% of a school year, according to United Nations estimates.
Even if these girls complete their schooling, they are likely to fall behind boys of their age, exacerbating existing inequalities in educational attainment, say campaigners.
Others, like Makau, are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
In rural western Kenya, one in 10 15-year-old girls said they had sex with men to get money for menstrual pads, a survey by the Kenya Medical Research Institute and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
“Lack of a simple thing like a pad can ruin someone’s life - it has far-reaching implications from not completing your education to being exploited and faced with early pregnancy and child marriage,” said Anita Soina, a social activist from Kenya’s Maasai community.
RETAILERS ‘RETAIN BENEFIT’
In rich countries too, concern has been growing about period poverty as inflation squeezes household budgets.
“People are using tea towels, T-shirts, socks, toilet paper,” said Tina Leslie, founder of Freedom4Girls, one of several charities that successfully lobbied the British government to scrap a 5% VAT rate on period products in 2021.
But two years on, many campaigners say the impact on prices has been disappointing.
The lion’s share of the saving has been retained by retailers, giving them an annual windfall estimated at about 15 million pounds ($18 million), according to research published in November 2022 by Tax Policy Associates, a nonprofit.
“At most, tampon prices were cut by around 1%, with the remaining 80% of the benefit retained by retailers,” said the study, which factored in the effect of inflation by tracking the prices of period products alongside other common hygiene goods.
A spokesperson for the Treasury said the government had kept its promise to scrap the tax, urging retailers “to pass the savings on to shoppers”.
Several large retailers, including the pharmacy chains Boots and Superdrug, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation they had cut the price of period products by 5% in January 2021 to reflect the VAT changes. Supermarket chain Waitrose said it had voluntarily reduced its prices four years prior to the tax cut.
But as British campaigners ratchet up pressure on retailers, experts say scrapping the tampon tax is unlikely to reduce prices without stringent controls to ensure implementation, such as detailed price research and monitoring companies for non-compliance.
“Tax policy changes alone are insufficient: They must be implemented fully, resourced adequately in terms of quality control, and (have the) price change monitored,” said Susan Fox, deputy director at consulting organisation Global Health Visions, in a 2020 study on tax advocacy of menstrual products.
Without that, tax cuts can fall flat.
In Tanzania, VAT was reinstated a year after sanitary pads were exempted after it became clear that suppliers were not passing lower prices to consumers.
Part of the problem is market domination by a few companies who control prices, experts say.
Always - which dominates the Kenyan pads market - maintained its prices while other brands set their pricing to align with it following the VAT cut, Fox’s study said.
Procter & Gamble, which owns the Always brand, did not reply to requests for comment. Other leading manufacturers contacted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation either declined to comment or said distributors and retailers were responsible for setting prices.
“Without adequate competition, menstrual product manufacturers and retailers can just keep prices as is ... and absorb the tax cuts into their profit margin,” said Laura Rossow, health and development economist and senior research fellow at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
Rossow has investigated why removing the tax in four countries, including Kenya, did not sufficiently improve the affordability of products.
STAINS AND STIGMA
In Kenya, campaigners are now looking to a handful of global success stories in the fight against period poverty in countries including Scotland - where pads are available free - and Mexico, where rigorous monitoring has ensured VAT cuts benefit women.
These include Kenyan politician Gloria Orwoba, who hit the headlines in February after her period stained her white trouser suit as she arrived for a Senate meeting.
Orwoba, who was expelled halfway through the meeting after complaints from other legislators for not adhering to the “dress code”, protested on the Senate floor against the stigma surrounding menstruation.
She wants free pads to be available in all public schools.
“The ideal solution would be that sanitary pads are free for all,” Orwoba told local television.
“(But) this problem ... we can’t solve it from a zero to a 100% solution. So right now, the most vulnerable are school-going children.”
An existing Kenyan programme to provide free pads to adolescent girls in low-income public schools has been patchy, plagued by shortages and distribution issues, students and campaigners say.
To make matters worse, the government last year sharply reduced the annual budget allocated for free sanitary pads.
“Already the amount allocated was not enough,” said SUPERB’s Nassur, who has started a petition urging authorities to boost funds for free pads.
Standing outside a Mexico City subway station where her husband sells candy, 21-year-old homemaker Monserrat Barrera said she had noticed a difference since the country’s leftist government scrapped VAT on sanitary products in 2021.
“I used to buy them at 50, 55 pesos, and now it’s less,” she said, adding that she still sometimes has to choose between food and pads as inflation pushes up the prices of essential goods.
“A lot of things are very expensive now, so I haven’t purchased sanitary towels since November.”
In contrast to Britain and Kenya, Mexico publishes data tracking the prices of leading brands and different sanitary products to ensure transparency and accountability.
As inflation in the country reached nearly 8% last year, the price of some sanitary goods held nearly stable while others fell, the analysis found, and the Finance Ministry said the tax cut had saved women nearly 5.3 million pesos ($300,000) in 2021.
Although annual inflation in the country reached 7.82% last year, the cost of sanitary towels rose just 0.9%, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation analysis of data from Mexico’s consumer protection agency on brands Always, Kotex, Naturella, Saba, Tampax and Diva.
The average price of tampons and menstrual cups inched down by 0.10% and 0.25%.
“If we hadn’t had a zero-rated tax, inflation would have sent prices on menstrual management products through the roof,” said Paulina Castano, a member of the Menstruacion Digna (Dignified Menstruation) coalition that fought for the tax to be scrapped.
Now, like Orwoba in Kenya, Mexican campaigners want to emulate Scotland’s example of free distribution of period products - at least in the country’s schools.
Scottish women are the only ones in the world who can pick up supplies of pads and tampons for free thanks to a 2020 law which its main sponsor said could make the nation the first “to consign period poverty to history”.
Using the PickUpMyPeriod app, Scots can identify 700 locations such as community centres, youth clubs, schools and pharmacies where free products are available.
The legislation has been “life-changing” for people feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, especially for those sleeping rough, said homelessness charity Simon Community Scotland.
“One of the women we supported had to basically stay at home and would have to use socks or any sort of item,” said Andrea Middleton, the group’s period friendly coordinator, a new role.
“She should be able to go out, live her life with dignity around that time of the month, like we all should,” said Middleton, who helps distribute products at over 160 locations.
“In an ideal world, (free period products) should just be available to everybody in every country,” she added.
In Mexico, legislation called the Dignified Menstruation Law to make pads free in schools has been passed in eight of Mexico’s 32 states, though a lack of funding by local governments has hampered its implementation.
“There’s political will, but no resources,” Castano said.
In the maze of narrow lanes that make up Nairobi’s Kibera settlement, which is home to hundreds of thousands of people, Kenyan charity Amani Kibera is focusing on another way to get affordable menstrual products to women and girls: reusable pads.
“We started making them and distributing them after we were given some leftover materials,” said Amani Kibera’s co-founder Mariam Twahir, as she held up a brightly coloured pad made from kitenge cloth.
“We teach the young women how to stitch them using the sewing machine that we have here. You just wash them and dry them in the sunlight and they are ready to use again. It’s the best method as they are cost-effective and more sustainable.”
But it is not just about accessing menstrual products, say campaigners; women and girls also need access to water and toilets to help them manage their periods.
In informal settlements like Kibera, families live in tiny one-room shacks made of corrugated iron. There is no piped water so residents buy it from private tankers, and many households have to share poorly maintained pit latrines.
Only 32% of rural schools in Kenya have a private place such as toilets for girls to change their period pads, according to the 2016 study backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Such limitations make it difficult to wash and dry rags or reusable pads discreetly - a major concern among women in a country where period shaming is widespread and can have devastating consequences.
In 2019, a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Kabiangek, west of Nairobi, died by suicide after her teacher allegedly called her “dirty” and expelled her from class after she bled on her uniform.
While the fight against tampon taxes has had mixed results on affordability in Kenya and beyond, it has succeeded in putting the issue on the public agenda - a key step towards eroding stigma, campaigners said.
“A strong positive outcome we’ve seen (is) that menstruation challenges, not only access to products, but the taboo nature around it ... have come to the forefront,” said Ina Jurga, coordinator of Menstrual Hygiene Day at WASH United, a charity.
The debate could also pave the way for more holistic policymaking to tackle period poverty - such as industry incentives to boost local production or targeted subsidies for low-income women and girls, like discount vouchers.
Retailers and manufacturers could also be encouraged to donate free products via their social corporate responsibility programs, said Rossow.
As part of a partnership with U.S. nonprofit Period Law, pharmacy chain CVS pledged to pay the sales tax on period products in 12 states that have not yet removed it and lower the cost of its store brand products by 25%.
“The fact that CVS can lower their price by 25% suggests that all companies that produce these products can do the same, and they should do the same,” said Laura Strausfeld, executive director at Period Law.
CVS declined to comment further on the initiative.
Makau, who now has an almost three-year-old son, said governments should make access to menstrual products a priority, just as they have done with condoms.
“Like mine, many other young girls lives are being ruined over not being able to afford this basic necessity,” said Makau, who works doing laundry and earns 330 shillings per day.
"There are places where condoms are freely available in dispensers or distributed for nothing, but we hardly ever see that for pads. It feels like women are being punished for something that is not our fault." ($1 = 136.5000 Kenyan shillings) ($1 = 0.7954 pounds) ($1 = 17.7767 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Nita Bhalla in Nairobi, Diana Baptista in Mexico City and Lin Taylor in London; Writing by Diana Baptista; Editing by Helen Popper. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit www.context.news/)
Ending period poverty requires better education on menstruation but also the support of government, health and public bodies.What is tampon poverty? ›
Period Poverty & the Period Products Bill
Period Poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products, proper hygiene education, and menstrual care disposal infrastructure. The stigmatization of periods and period products makes tackling period poverty especially difficult.
Poor hygiene measures during menstruation can pose serious health risks, such as reproductive and urinary tract infections, thrush, and others. Menstruators require access to sanitary facilities, clean water, and affordable, safe menstrual products in order to have a healthy and secure period.Why is there a tax on tampons? ›
Menstrual hygiene products are considered by many states within the United States as "tangible individual property" resulting in additional sales tax. This additional tax increases the overall price and further limits accessibility to menstrual hygiene products to lower-income women.Should tampons be free? ›
Feminine products like pads and tampons should be free of charge. Women should not be charged for something they do not have a choice in nor should they be charged for going through a natural process of life. It is unethical to profit off of women by reducing their access to basic care.Who does period poverty affect? ›
Internationally, people who menstruate and who have low, or no income are most likely to face period poverty. In the US, homeless, low-income, and/or imprisoned women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals who menstruate are all impacted by period poverty at a much higher rate.Who is to blame for the tampon shortage? ›
Time claims the COVID-19 pandemic is partially responsible, as cotton, plastic and paper pulp used to make tampons have been in high demand to make masks and other personal protective equipment — putting pressure on the supply chain. Factory closures and staff shortages have also contributed to the problem.Is period poverty a tampon shortage? ›
In June, an article in Time highlighted social media complaints from consumers across the US about a shortage of period products on store shelves since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Period poverty organizations backed up the under-reported issue and cited drop-offs in tampon donations in recent months.Who caused the tampon shortage? ›
Overall, the 2022 tampon shortages are being caused by the same factors as other shortages—access to raw materials, shipping troubles, and labor issues. As Time pointed out, tampons are made with cotton and rayon, two materials that have been in high-demand for personal protective equipment throughout the pandemic.Where is period poverty the worst? ›
Period poverty in the Global South
This denies girls their right to an education, and often shapes the rest of their lives. A UNESCO report estimates that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period. By some estimates, this amounts to as much as 20% of a given school year.
A box of tampons typically costs between $5 and $8, depending on the item count. Susan F. Wood, director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health at George Washington University, said the key with any alternative is to use it safely.How many girls miss school because of their period? ›
One in 5 girls in America miss school because of it.What is the problem with tampon tax? ›
The tampon tax is also regressive because it disproportionately impacts the low-income who may already struggle to afford necessities. A study by Kotex revealed that 40% of women have financially struggled to purchase period products at some point in their lifetime.What is the solution to tampon tax? ›
A possible solution is the government should keep collecting the “tampon tax” but only from the people who can afford it. The government should offer free feminine hygiene products for school-age adolescents, tax-free feminine hygiene products for people with low income and regular price for those with high income.Why do women's products cost more? ›
“We find that when firms sell products targeted to men and women, they're rarely identical products that are sold in different colored packaging,” she says. “The prices charged for products targeted to men and women differ, but it seems to be driven by the fact that the products themselves are different.”Why should female products be free? ›
An estimation of around 20% of industrial water pollution is from garment manufacturing, which contributes to climate change. As making sanitary products free would mean less people would be buying new pants/ leggings/ trousers, it would also help with the pollution from the machines that make them.What states are tampons free? ›
All California public schools and universities must provide free menstrual products in their restrooms. Check out our blog for more details on California's Menstrual Equity For All Act from 2021!Is free bleeding better than tampons? ›
Experts note that free bleeding has no proven health benefits. There are several anecdotal ones, though. People have experienced reduced menstrual cramping and tend to feel less discomfort. If you switch from tampons to free bleeding, there's also a reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).Is period poverty a pandemic? ›
For those experiencing period poverty, the lack of resources, like access to free products, is a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic but is by no means a new public health issue.Can a man sense when a woman is on her period? ›
And what about during your period? Previous studies have shown that a woman's body odor is strongest during menstruation and that men who are particularly sensitive to smells can even detect this change in her scent.
The average menstruating individual uses approximately 11,000 disposable hygiene products, like tampons or pads, in a lifetime. This contributes to 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons going into the landfills annually1 (not to mention the total impact of producing, shipping, and packaging these products).How many tampons do US throw away in a year? ›
Let's revisit the environmental impact of tampons and pads. In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year. While many of these products end up in a landfill, others clog sewers or contribute to the staggering amount of plastics in our oceans.How many people can't afford tampons? ›
More research and engagement are called for. At a glance some period poverty facts from the US only: 500 million people lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities. 16.9 million people who menstruate in the US are living in poverty.How much money does a woman spend on tampons in a lifetime? ›
Women have an average of 456 periods in their life, which translates to 9,120 tampons used. At an average price of seven dollars for a box of 36 tampons, the total amount women spend on tampons is approximately $1,773.33.How long will the tampon shortage last? ›
Vakil said she anticipates shortages, constraints and higher pricing (on most items, not just tampons) through 2023. In the meantime, if you're having a hard time finding your go-to tampons, there are plenty of alternative options to help you get through your period.Are pads cheaper than tampons? ›
In the US, the upfront cost is cheapest for pads, followed by tampons — though the prices for these products increased by almost 10% in the last year. Reusable period cups and period panties are more expensive to start. Cups begin to offer cost savings by around a year.Who was the first person to use a tampon? ›
While Dr. Earle Haas patented the first modern tampon in 1931, tampons had been used for thousands of years prior to that by women across the globe. The Papyrus Ebers, the world's oldest printed medical document, describes the use of papyrus tampons by Egyptian women as early as the 15th century BCE.What country made tampons free? ›
The initiative makes Scotland the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products, part of a global effort to end “period poverty” — or a lack of access to tampons or sanitary pads because of prohibitively high costs.Which is better tampons or pads? ›
When deciding whether to use pads or tampons, it's really up to you. Many girls start out using pads, but might want to use tampons when they do sports or go swimming. Tampons also are easy to store in a purse or pocket. Another advantage to tampons is that they can't be felt because they're inside the body.Is there period poverty in the US? ›
Around 16.9 million people who menstruate live in poverty in the United States. Among those women, two-thirds said they struggled with affording menstrual products in the last year, and 14% of college girls in a study surveyed said they struggled to afford period products.
Poorest States in the US
Mississippi is the poorest state in the US, with a poverty rate of 18.7%, followed by Louisiana as the second poorest state, with a poverty rate of 17.8%, and New Mexico, as the third poorest state in the US, at a poverty rate of 16.8%.
Period poverty mostly occurs because of having a low income. If you're only earning enough money to choose between food and heating, then period products quickly slip down the list of priorities.Is it OK to wear tampons daily? ›
Never wear a single tampon for more than 8 hours at a time. Use the lowest absorbency tampon needed. If you can wear one tampon up to eight hours without changing it, the absorbency may be too high. Contact your health care provider if you have pain, fever or other unusual symptoms.How much does it cost to make 1 pad? ›
A typical pad manufactured by an international brand costs typically around Rs. 6 or more and a domestic manufactured pad costs between Re. 1 to Rs. 3.Are tampons 100% safe? ›
Regular tampons are recognized as safe to use by the FDA and by other expert organizations and medical experts.Why did my 13 year old miss her period? ›
What causes missed periods? A teen girl may be fine and just a little late with regulating her periods. She may have a hormone imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome and needs to be checked for high cholesterol and diabetes. She may have an ovary or thyroid problem and need hormones.Can a 11 year old miss her period? ›
It's common, especially in the first 2 years after a girl starts getting her period, to skip periods or to have irregular periods. Illness, rapid weight change, or stress can also make things more unpredictable. That's because the part of the brain that regulates periods is influenced by events like these.Can a 15 year old miss her period? ›
It's normal for teens to miss a period, or even go a few months without one like you have. Your body is still growing and adjusting, and your hormones are still figuring their thing out.Why should the tampon tax be removed? ›
Menstrual rights are human rights because—as the United Nations Population Fund explains—”menstruation is intrinsically related to human dignity.” The imposition of consumption taxes on tampons and other menstrual hygiene products discriminates against women and girls by making it more costly for them to access goods ...Who benefits from the pink tax? ›
When a company sells a pink product (the female version) for more than a blue product (the male version), the additional revenue from the pink product does not go to the government. The only beneficiaries of the "pink tax" are the companies who charge women more than men.
Low-income consumers enjoy a benefit from the repeal of the tax by more than the size of the repealed tax. For high-income consumers, the tax break is shared equally with producers.How much tax is on a box of tampons? ›
The financial burden of the tampon tax.
Women in America are paying upwards of 7 percent (the average U.S. state and local sales tax is 6.25 percent), on a $6.99 pack of tampons, which means roughly an additional 50 cents per box.
The main reason is girls' clothing costs more than boys, and as daughters grow, many of them like adding accessories like hats, shoes, and bags. Most parents who participated in the study said it's actually cheaper to raise more than one child because of all the hand-me-downs.How much does it cost to be a woman? ›
Consumer-finance experts say women can pay up to $1,300 more than a man every year. Over the course of 78-year lifespan, the average for women in the United States, that equates to $101,400.Do women's clothes cost more? ›
Higher prices in the women's section can sometimes be chalked up to the materials used and the workmanship that goes into the clothing, but there are other factors that could be playing a part, too—particularly if you're eyeing the price tag of a simple sweater and not, say, an elaborate gown.What is the legislation to end period poverty? ›
"The Period PROUD Act removes that cost-barrier for the 22 million women living in poverty and ensures that a period will never have to prevent someone from going to school or showing up to work. Menstruation is a natural process and the products it requires should be freely accessible."What is the stigma of period poverty? ›
Holding back women and girls
This often leads to women and girls feeling confined to their homes, being excluded from public spaces, or considered to be bad luck or harmful to others for about a week every month. Devastatingly, this period stigma (along with poverty) has a huge impact on girls' education.
This is sometimes referred to as “period poverty.” ACP policy supports greater investment in public policy interventions that address social drivers of health and other factors that negatively impact health and supports federal, state, tribal, and local funding efforts to address social drivers of health.What is an example of period poverty? ›
A: Period poverty“Inadequate access to menstrual tools and education, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities and waste management.”3. is the lack of access to menstrual products. (MP) and improper education about menstrual hygiene.How many states provide free menstrual products? ›
Since 2020, 10 states and the District of Columbia passed bills either creating or expanding requirements to provide free menstrual products in public schools.
One in 5 girls in America miss school because of it.How does period poverty affect education? ›
84% have missed a class or know someone who missed it because they don't have access to menstrual products. 83% of teens believe that the impact of period poverty is not talked about enough. 79% feel that they lack proper education about menstrual health.Can I sleep with a tampon in? ›
Infections include the rare but serious Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). It is safe to sleep with a tampon in as long as it's not for more than eight hours. So, if you can keep your night-time snooze to 8 hours or under, then you can wear a tampon overnight.Why do girls wear pads? ›
Pads are rectangles of absorbent material that attach to the inside of a girl's underwear and catch menstrual blood. They're sometimes also called sanitary pads or sanitary napkins.Do girls have to wear pads? ›
When deciding whether to use pads or tampons, it's really up to you. Many girls start out using pads, but might want to use tampons when they do sports or go swimming. Tampons also are easy to store in a purse or pocket. Another advantage to tampons is that they can't be felt because they're inside the body.What countries have free menstrual products? ›
Scotland is the first country to offer period products free of charge on a national scale. Others, including New Zealand and Kenya, distribute products for free in public schools. In the U.S., a package of tampons or menstrual pads costs around $7 to $10 for a supply that may last a month or two.