In a move hailed by citizens across the region, Belize has cemented itself as the fourth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state to abolish taxes on female sanitary products, which becomes effective as of April 1, 2023.
The long-awaited decision marks the culmination of the Don’t Tax My Femininity campaign—spearheaded by Human Development Minister Dolores Garcia, special envoy Rossana Briceño and 28-year-old humanitarian Seidi Quetzal—sees related taxes falling from roughly 35 per cent to zero in the next three weeks.
Just nearing the mid-point of Women’s History Month, Prime Minister John Briceño, who made the announcement in the National Assembly chambers yesterday (March 10), felt that the decision was a necessary step in the development of the country by fostering gender equality.
“A few weeks ago, after a passionate appeal from my wife [Rossana Briceño], Special Envoy for the Development of Families & Children as well as Minister for Family Affairs Dolores Garcia, Cabinet determined that effective the first of April, all taxes will be removed from sanitary products for women,” Briceño explained.
“It is past time that we put an end to taxing women’s femininity. From all of us, to women everywhere, we say thank you and happy [International] Women’s Day. #EmbraceEquity,” he added.
Briceño also looked forward to a day in the near future when “this chamber would be represented equally by women and men alike”.
Nevertheless, the Briceño administration further committed to including women in all levels of leadership and governance.
Belize joins The Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago in an encouragingly growing list of CARICOM countries to remove taxes on sanitary products.
Trinidad completed its zero-rated transition in February 2016, marking a watershed moment regionally which was followed by The Bahamas in January 2021 and most recently in Barbados in April 2022. Additionally, the Government of Guyana introduced a zero-rated policy in March 2021, however, it applies only to sanitary napkins, not any other menstrual product.
According to Global Citizen, only seven other countries worldwide have eliminated taxes on female sanitary products namely Scotland, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Uganda and Zambia.