Madam Abla Dzifa Gomashie, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu South, has appealed to the Government to remove taxes on sanitary pads and towels.
This, the MP said was necessary to make them affordable to girls, thereby enhancing menstrual hygiene and quality of life for them.
Madam Gomashie made the call in her remarks at the 2022 Legislators and Delegates Conference at Parliament House in Accra.
The event was organized by the United Nations Population Fund, Ghana (UNFPA Ghana) alongside the 2022 Adolescent Girls Learning Forum (ADOLEF) on the theme “Girls At the Centre of All Dialogues”.
It brought together Legislators (Members of Parliament) and Delegates (adolescent girls and boys) to discuss issues affecting girls; such as child marriages and the prevention of teenage pregnancies.
This year’s meeting was attended by 85 Delegates, comprising 65 girls and 20 boys.
Madam Gomashie appealed to the Government to remove luxury taxes and remove the Value Added Tax (VAT) from sanitary pads to make them affordable to poor girls, who could not afford.
She noted that taxing sanitary pads and towels made them costly and that study had revealed that because of the high cost of sanitary towels, some adolescent girls were being forced into transactional sex.
She said this had forced some adolescent girls into relationships that do not benefit them; saying “They are becoming pregnant, they are becoming teenage mothers and their education is being truncated, it is an unending battle”.
“In recent times, we have the reusable ones, where we were sowing them, can we have a social intervention from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to take charge of that and provide those sanitary towels, so the girls can remain in school,” the MP said.
“Let them live in dignity. This is biology. Nobody chooses to have a menstrual cycle, so why is it (sanitary pads) luxury? Why is there a tax on it? Is it because it is imported? Okay. Though it is imported, create it, build a factory for producing it.”
Madam Gomashie appealed to civil society organisations (CSOs) to combine their efforts to ensure that taxes on sanitary pads were removed.
“We all need to rally behind these girls, our children, our future, the next generation, and let’s champion their cause. Let’s fight for them, because you see, we don’t choose the families in which we come from? We are blessed to be long to our individual families. So, if you come from a family where there is everything, you will not understand what this means – not to have sanitary towels for seven days. You won’t understand,” she said.
“Civil society, I am knocking on your doors, join us in this advocacy, join us in this campaign to have the taxes removed to keep the sanitary towels affordable.”
Madam Gomashie lauded the UNFPA for organizing the annual Legislators and Delegates Conference, which she said would go a long way to boost confidence and morals of teenagers.
She said the event, which offers young girls and boys the opportunity to meet Members of Parliament serves as an inspiration to them that they could aspire to be like their MPs.
The MP further urged the Delegates to be peer mentors.
Dr Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, NDC MP for Wa Central and Chairman of Population Forum, said Parliament was fundamental to democracy and that democracy could not be avoided if Ghanaians want peace and prosperity in the country.
He said because of the experiences that Ghanaians had had, they have defined a Constitution for themselves, which also defines their way of life; adding that Parliament symbolizes the democratic processes that Ghanaians go through in the everyday life.
Mr Barnabas Yisa, the UNFPA Country Representative to Ghana said the purpose of the Legislators and Delegates Conference, which begun since 2019, was to provide young people the opportunity to have an interactive session with the MPs.
Dr Doris Mawuse Aglobitse, the Head of Gender Unit at the UNFPA Ghana, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency said the whole idea of the Legislators and Delegates Conference was for the Parliamentarians to hear from the young ones themselves – their needs and see which of these needs, they as Legislators could assist with?
Touching on the issue of taxing sanitary pads, Dr Aglobitse said it was like taxing the woman and the girl every month for menstruating.
“This is their God-given task, and if we all can be a bit sensitive about it and will not tax sanitary pads, I think that will go a long way to help all of us.”
Madam Matilda Issah, a Delegate from the Oti Region, who expressed her joy over the Conference, also appealed to the House to help ensure that schools in the Oti Region were provided with the necessary teaching and learning materials to aid in reducing the rising number of teenage pregnancy cases in the area.