Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom on Tuesday threw his weight behind calls for sanitary pads to be VAT-exempt.
Hanekom was speaking during a visit by hundreds of pupils from schools across the country to Parliament for a youth summit.
"There is a panel at the moment which is making recommendations on which items should be VAT-exempt and there is a very strong submission that sanitary towels should be VAT exempted. Sanitary towels should be VAT exempted, I support that," he said while answering questions from learners.
"I think though there is a strong case for free sanitary towels to be made available especially to girls at school."
The youth summit was organised by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in partnership with the Department of Tourism under the theme “A Mandela in Every Generation”.
The summit created a unique opportunity for children and youth to have their voices heard on matters that affect them. It also provided a platform for children to engage representatives from different institutions including business, political leaders and other leaders from society.
Hanekom said the government should start seeing sanitary towels as a basic human right.
“And I think that we should move in that direction, we should start seeing it as not something that people buy but something that is a right in the same way education is a right,” he said, adding that the fact that poor learners could not afford sanitary towels affected the ability of girls to learn.