Finance minister Tito Mboweni heeded Ngwenya's call on pads

Tintswalo Ngwenya. / KABELO MOKOENA
Tintswalo Ngwenya. / KABELO MOKOENA

Tintswalo Ngwenya, the courageous young woman who wrote to finance minister Tito Mboweni proposing the zero-rating of sanitary towels, is relieved that the country is dealing with the plight of poor girls in schools.

In his medium-term budget policy statement, Mboweni announced that the government has resolved to abolish the payment of value-added tax on sanitary pads.

Mboweni particularly singled out Ngwenya in his speech as the one who heeded the call to give suggestions before his mini budget.

Ngwenya, 23, a first-year student in development studies at Unisa, said sanitary pads have been an issue close to her heart.

"I didn't think that my name would be mentioned. I didn't think that the issue would be on top of the list of all the tax subsidies. That really came as a surprise and I was really happy about it.

"I was just voicing something that has been on my mind for a long time . It is an issue that has persisted in our society. It was only right to speak out for those who cannot afford sanitary towels . young girls lose their confidence, which ultimately makes them miss school.

"Because they don't have pads, they end up using tissues or old clothing and it affects their confidence."

She said she felt strong about girls not attending school and how having affordable sanitary pads will help the development process of the country.

Ngwenya sees herself as a "fortunate girl" who's been able to afford pads but felt that something had to be done for those less fortunate.

She was part of a pad drive last year which allowed people to buy sanitary towels at big pharmacies for about R10 and these were donated to underprivileged girls.

She said the tax cuts on sanitary towels were a step in the right direction for the country.

"I feel that announcing such a move also allows other people who are capable to take part in the initiative to join, which will allow the change to be quicker," she said.

Ngwenya was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, but raised in Umlazi, Durban. She returned to Soweto in 2005. She works as a chef at a restaurant in Steyn City, Johannesburg.

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