A child and family-focused organization in Ghana, J Initiative, is asking the government to remove the 20% import tax on sanitary towels in order to make them available and affordable for all girls regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.
According to the NGO, the high cost of sanitary pads in the country is affecting the education of girls because many girls, especially those in the rural communities in Ghana, are unable to buy the product hence stay away from school.
Presently 20% tax levy is charged on imported sanitary towels because sanitary pads are categorised as luxury products per the Ghana Revenue Authority guidelines.
The situation, the NGO believes, has accounted for organizations in Ghana resorting to pad donations to girls; especially those in deprived societies as a way to encourage girls’ attendance and participation in school activities during menstruation.
The child-centered research and advocacy non-governmental organization says a research in schools in Ghana revealed that menstruation has emerged as an additional barrier to school attendance and active participation amongst adolescent girls in Ghana.
In a statement signed by the CEO of J. Initiative, Awo Aidam Amenya on the International Day of the Girl Child, the organization indicated some barriers to girls’ school attendance, participation, and retention have been identified as cultural expectations, early pregnancy and marriage, household responsibilities and the prioritization of boys’ education and should be worked on to save the situation.
“The school environment also tends to contribute to these barriers to the education of girls. Some deficits in the school environment that discourage girls from attending and participating in school activities include lack of female teachers, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and gender-based violence,” the statement revealed.
Today is being observed globally as the International Day of the Girl Child under the theme: “With Her; a skilled GirlForce’’. The focus of this year’s theme is on securing viable employment opportunities for adolescent girls set to enter the workforce within the next decade.
The Organization believes its ‘Happy School Girl Project’ resonates with this year’s theme in the sense that if girls’ participation and retention in school is hindered because of menstruation, the pre-supposition that they cannot acquire the soft skills needed to become a useful workforce to any country is high.
“On this special day, it would be most appropriate that the government would consider reviewing tax on sanitary pads to ensure an enhancement in the Ghanaian girls’ health and in the education,” the statement said.
The Organization also builds partnerships with organisations and individuals to promote child online safety by employing rights and evidence-based advocacy approaches to achieve sustainable outcomes.
JI’s HAPPY SCHOOL GIRL PROJECT is a Menstrual Hygiene Management programme to educates girls / young women and builds their capacity to manage their periods by practicing clean and healthy methods which includes but not limited to how they get hold of, use and dispose off materials used for blood absorption such as disposable sanitary pads, reusable sanitary pads, panty pads or a menstrual cup.