Some adolescent girls and young women in the Northern Region have called on the Government to remove the 20 per cent taxes imposed on sanitary pads.
That would make the pads affordable for them to ensure menstrual hygiene and also protect them during their menstrual periods, the said.
The girls made the call when they went on a procession through some principal streets of Tamale to the Regional Coordinating Council to present a petition to the Regional Minister, demanding action from the Government to address the issue.
They carried placards with inscriptions like: “Eliminate period poverty”, “Girls must not miss school lessons because of menstruation”, and “A girl does not have to choose between good menstrual hygiene and getting education”.
The event, organised as part of the Power to Youth project, in collaboration with the Department of Gender, was to commemorate this year’s International Day of Menstruation, held in May every year, to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene management.
The Power to Youth project, being implemented by a consortium of civil society organisations (Youth Advocates Ghana, Ghana SRH Alliance and Songtaba), led by Norsaac, supports girls and young women from remote or marginalised communities to make informed choices, enjoy their sexuality and be free from harmful practices in a gender-equitable society.
The petition, read by Miss Huniesatu Seidu, a student, said: “Ghana is faced with a situation where adolescent girls, in and out of school, have challenges in accessing clean water and changing rooms, and healthy menstrual hygiene products.”
“Surveys and statistics still show that the issues around period poverty are increasingly evolving as more girls are engaging in transactional sex to afford sanitary pads for their periods.”
“Among other reasons, we have to empathise on the excessive cost of sanitary materials due to heavy taxes on these products as major cause for transactional sex.”
It said some adolescent girls and young women engaged in transactional sex in a bid to get money to buy sanitary pads, a situation resulting in increasing cases of teenage pregnancies.
Recent research by the Upper West Regional Youth Parliament, with support from Plan International Ghana, revealed that 83 per cent of adolescent girls in Wa East offered sex for sanitary pads.
“Unfortunately, this phenomenon is widespread and has become a major adolescent protection issue across the country,” the petition said.
“Data from the Ghana Health Service indicate that the country recorded nearly 110,000 (109,888) teenage pregnancies in 2020 alone. Out of this, 107,023 pregnancies were recorded among girls between 15 and 19 years and 2,865 girls aged between 10 and 14. These recorded pregnancies are also largely caused by transactional sex for basic needs including sanitary pads.”
The quest to end unintended pregnancies must be a key priority to all stakeholders with conscious efforts to address period poverty, as it had been identified as one of the major factors contributing to the menace, the petition said.
It called on the Government to provide decent washrooms, detergents and running water at the basic schools, especially those in remote areas, to help young people better manage their menstrual period.
It further called on government to include sanitary pads in the list of first aids in the infirmaries to help girls, who experienced their menstrual period while in school.
A staff member of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council, who received the petition on behalf of the Regional Minister, Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, assured the petitioners that it would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities for the needed attention.