New Health Minister Chastised For Giving Free Pads To Ministry First Instead Of B40 Women

Bersatu information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan claimed that the Health Minister does not understand the target group of the free sanitary pad initiative.

Cover image via Danial Saad/New Straits Times & Free Malaysia Today

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Newly-minted Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has recently come under scrutiny for her decision to begin the free sanitary pad initiative at the Ministry of Health's (MOH) office

In a live press conference yesterday, 12 December, Zaliha announced that the MOH would be providing free sanitary pads in all office bathrooms in the MOH building, in conjunction with the ministry's support for women's health and rights. 

She said that although this is a small step in resolving the issue of period poverty in Malaysia, Zaliha believes that it will make a significant difference.

However, one individual has made it clear that he does not support the Health Minister's decision.

Image via Malaysiakini

Based on a Facebook post, Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan has accused Zaliha of not understanding her target group when initiating the free sanitary pad programme

He said that she should have prioritised and extended the programme to underprivileged women first, before extending it to anyone else.

"Efforts to tackle period poverty are good and worthy of support. It should be made a national programme. But what is the relevance of providing free women's sanitary towels in the minister's office toilets? The ones who need it are the underprivileged women, not the ones sitting in the minister's office," Wan Saiful wrote.

The Tasek Gelugor member of parliament (MP) also took a jab at Zaliha's income class, commenting that Zaliha being wealthy was the reason she failed to pinpoint the programme's priorities.

Period poverty has been an ever-growing issue in Malaysia, with more than 130,000 women unable to afford feminine hygiene products

To combat the issue, Selangor became the first state to implement a free sanitary pad programme, with a RM200,000 billion budget backing the initiative in 2023.

The budget will fund an awareness campaign and the provision of free sanitary pads.

Selangor will be following in the footsteps of other countries. South Korea has offered free menstrual towels in public areas since 2018, and Scotland became the first country in the world to make all period products free for its citizens.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Beauty Insider Malaysia

You can read Wan Saiful's full Facebook post below:

Read the full article regarding Selangor's efforts in providing free sanitary products in 2023:

Check out this entrepreneur who is combatting period poverty by empowering underprivileged women with reusable sanitary pads:

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