The Pheu Thai Party has launched a campaign demanding the government give free sanitary pads to women to mark International Woman's Day yesterday.
The campaign was introduced via an exhibition titled "Free Pads for All" organised from March 8-31 at Think Lab, a creative space and cafe at Pheu Thai's headquarters on New Phetchaburi Road.
Chanan Yodhong, the project manager, said Pheu Thai recognises that menstruation and sanitary pads are not just a personal matter but a social issue.
He said the average woman of menstruating age uses 15 to 35 pads a month, costing a total of 350 to 400 baht -- which equates to 4,800 baht a year or almost 200,000 baht throughout their lifetime. This compares unfavourably to a daily minimum wage of 331 baht, he said.
He said around a third of women in Thailand lack access to sanitary pads, meaning some need to reuse old ones or skip school or work for several days a month.
Mr Chanan estimated the budget for free pads would come to 10.9 billion baht per year, or 0.6% of the government's annual budget. Pheu Thai calculated that the government collects around 5 billion baht from the 7% value-added tax levied on sanitary pads and tampons each year.
"If we can use tampon tax as an initial budget for the 'Free Pads for All' campaign, every woman could easily access sanitary pads," said Mr Chanan. The party is giving away sanitary pads at its headquarters.
Meanwhile, Poranee Phuprasert, ThaiHealth's director of wellbeing promotion for vulnerable individuals, called for an end to violence against women.
Thailand has one of the worst rates of violence against women in the world, with 87% of sexual violence cases believed to go unreported.