Ghanain Civil Society Organisations have reiterated their call to the country’s government to reclassify sanitary pad from luxury product to essential product, to make it affordable on the market.
According to them, the 20 per cent luxury tax on sanitary pad and the 15 per cent Value Added Tax made it expensive on the market, and out of reach for many adolescent girls.
Setting the tone for a stakeholders breakfast meeting in Accra on Friday on “Tax Free Period Campaign,” Mrs Vivian Akligo, Policy and Advocacy Officer of Youth Advocates Ghana, organisers of the meeting funded by Women Deliver Young Leader Programme said “sanitary pad is not luxury, it is a biological process so there is no need for it to be classified as Luxury Tax, let us reclassify it as essential product.”
She said the classification of sanitary pad as final consumption goods (luxury good) had pushed girls and women (19-45) into “period poverty” as a result of lack of access to menstrual hygiene products due to financial constraints.
Mrs Akligo, a Women Deliver Young Leader, added that two or three packs of sanitary pad were required for every cycle which amounted to GH¢60, saying that “average family with three girls and one mother would require an expenditure of GH¢240 monthly to properly manage their period.”
“This is half of one’s salary using the minimum wage of GH¢14.88,” she said, adding that “for sustainable menstrual hygienic practice, sanitary pad must be affordable and free from taxes.”
Mrs Akligo said adolescent girls must go through their biological process of menstruation in a “dignified and hygienic manner”.
She said that an estimated 11 million adolescent girls in Ghana went through menstrual cycle, adding that the high cost of sanitary pad was dropping adolescent girls out of school, and some resorting to “transaction sex” to raise money to buy sanitary pad.
Mrs Akligo advocated that making sanitary pad affordable could enhance Ghana’s efforts towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals one, three, four and five.
She mentioned Malawi, Namibia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya as countries with duty/tax exemption on sanitary pad and questioned why Ghana was not on the list of the best practice countries, since Ghana was a pacesetter on the Africa continent.
Executive Director of Youth Advocates Ghana, Emmanuel Ametepey, expressed the need for adolescent girls to have access to affordable sanitary pads to enjoy the free SHS policy without dropping out of school.
He said adolescent girls must have access to essential products to promote their well-being and be more productive in life.
Contributing to the discussions, a representative from the Ministry of Finance, Rhoda Asare, said the government had taken on board the concerns of the “Tax Free Period Campaign” adding that “the main direction is to look at local production of sanitary pad.”
Some of the Tax Free Period Campaigners are Plan Ghana, Community Aid for Rural Development, Girls Excellent Movement, and Council for Civil Societies against Sanitary Pad Taxation, Youth Task Team, Savannah Signatures, Ghana Guilds Guide Association, Bridge for Equity, Christ Soldiers Foundation, and Wise Youth Foundation.