“I now buy baby diapers for one cedi and then cut the sides to make them straight. I line the diaper in my panty and they absorb the blood all day. If I used sanitary pads, I would have to change the pad at least three times and that is expensive.”
That is what Ayeley, a Chorkor resident, does to cope with the rising cost of sanitary pads.
The price of one pack of sanitary pad hovers from GHS 8 to 12 depending on the brand. Like everything else, the price of sanitary pads has risen.
“At first, it was sold at ¢5.50 and ¢7.00 but now, it is ¢ 9.00 and ¢10.00 when fuel prices go up, prices of products also go up.” Mary Dollah told JoyNews.
Taxes aren’t the only thing driving up the cost of sanitary pads. According to dealers, the high cost of fuel is also to blame.
In Ghana, sanitary pads are classified as luxury products by the Ghana Revenue Authority’s guidelines. It is therefore subjected to a 20% import tax and a 12.5% added value tax.
This has rendered the product too expensive for some ladies.
When it is that time of the month, Hagar, a Chorkor resident, gets anxious because of menstrual cramps, but the rising price of sanitary pads is also giving her palpitations.
She explains “when entering a new month, I become worried because first, we use to buy the sanitary pad at 5 cedis but now, some are selling it 8 cedis others are selling at 10 cedis. I have to buy toilet rolls whenever my money is not enough”.
Hagar is unemployed and a single mother. She depends on her uncle. She says when she has no money and needs to buy a sanitary pad, she becomes too shy to ask her uncle, so she is forced to use toilet rolls until she gets enough money to buy a sanitary pad.
Hagar is not the only one who cannot afford pads. Jamila Mohammed, also a resident says she sometimes uses toilet rolls when she is unable to buy even the diapers.
She explains “imagine I am menstruating and I have only 10 cedis in the morning. Would I use it to buy a pad and then go hungry? Meanwhile, I also need to bathe and that would cost me 1 cedi. Then I have to pay 70 pesewas for using the toilet.”
For people like Jamila, who earn about 20 cedis daily selling sachet water, buying at least 3 packs of sanitary pads for 24 cedis for about 5 days of menstruation is expensive. They also find a way of surviving the high cost of diapers.
“When I have no money for diapers, I use toilet rolls. I double the toilet paper and I use it to line my panties. I use toilet rolls that can soak more fluid,” she added.
Jamila says if the prices of sanitary keep galloping, she would be forced to go back to using cloths.
Previously I used to buy a brand that sold two packs of sanitary pads for 5 cedis. But now that brand is selling one for 5 cedis. That brand is inferior and we all know it. So, we decided to switch to a brand which absorbs more. Now a fairly good brand sells at 8 cedis for 1 pack of sanitary pads. That is expensive,” she complained.
Unfulfilled Presidential Promise
“We will eliminate import duties on sanitary pads to improve health conditions, particularly for girls”. That was a promise made by Vice President Dr, Mahamudu Bawumia on Saturday, August 22, 2020, during the launch of the party’s manifesto at the University of Cape Coast.
He explained that eliminating the import duties on pads has become necessary since some female students absent themselves from classes because they cannot afford sanitary pads.
“What we aim to really do is to make sure that we produce the sanitary pads in Ghana so until that happens in its numbers, we are going to eliminate the import duties [on sanitary pads] to bring down the cost,” he stated.
The New Patriotic Party won the 2020 election but the government is yet to fulfil its promise.
A study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund in 2016 revealed that 95 per cent of girls in rural areas sometimes miss school due to menstruation. According to the study, one reason was that they were too poor to buy sanitary pads, so they stay at home for their period.
Sexual Reproductive Health activists like Esenam Amuzu have been urging the government to follow through on its commitment to abolish sanitary pad charges.
She argues that because sanitary pads are taxed, the government is taxing every single drop of blood that women shed at the end of the month. She narrates stories about young girls who can’t afford sanitary pads and have to exchange sex for them.
“We have seen in the news, we have heard stories and they are real. It is not like someone is making them up where girls are exchanging sexual activities just to be able to purchase sanitary pads. The prices are just outrageous and it keeps increasing every day. It is becoming expensive to menstruate.” she stated.
Social media posts have been filled with arguments for why women’s periods should not be taxed.
I WILL TALK ABOUT PERIODS BECAUSE SANITARY PADS ARE EXPENSIVE AND THEY SHOULD NOT BE TAXED. IF ME TALKING ABOUT MY MENSTRUAL CYCLE TRIGGERS YOU THEN FUCKING UNFOLLOW ME BECAUSE THIS IS A HEALTH ISSUE.— perpetually tired (@naheinyaar) March 11, 2019
#WeAreCommitted to creating a world where no one is held back just because they menstruate!— Marie Stopes Ghana 🇬🇭 (@MarieStopes_Gh) May 28, 2022
Menstrual products are a basic necessity not a luxury. #DontTaxMyPeriod #MHDay2022 #MenstrualHygieneDay2022 pic.twitter.com/WbcF2tyKeA
@NAkufoAddo reasons why periodic taxes needs to be scraped?— Theophilia🥰😘 (@TheophiliaYaa) May 28, 2022
1.Menstrual Products are basic Necessities, Not LUXURIES!
2. Period taxed are discriminatory and perpetuate gender Inequality!#MHDay22#EndPeriodstigma#EndPeriodpoverty#DONTTAXMYPERIOD#TaxFreeSanitaryPads
A government that believes that condoms should not be taxed but sanitary pads should be taxed is that one too a reasonable government? pic.twitter.com/SiWvBAt8rW— General Marcus! (@marcusadampah) June 9, 2022
Sanitary Pads are an essential need. We should stop trivializing it. It SHOULD NOT BE TAXED! https://t.co/99KrwXNuap— Big Akwes (@AaronCoverdel) May 30, 2022
Do not make our girls look more vulnerable but safe the tomorrow today, sanitary pads should be taxed free. pic.twitter.com/yZT0SvDwAA— salifu abibata (@AbibataSalifu) May 27, 2022
Ayeley, Jamila and Hagar join the numerous activists on social media to call on the President to listen to their plea. This is a reminder to the government to listen to the cries of women and act swiftly.
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