Mr Martin Sumbo, the Upper West Regional Coordinator of Global Communities has appealed to the government to subsidize or remove taxes on sanitary pads to make them affordable to school girls.
This, he said, would save them from the tendency of staying out of school during menstruation.
Mr Sumbo who said this in Wa at the weekend, could not fathom why a condom was affordable though using it was optional, while a sanitary pad, which was compulsory for every girl, was rather expensive to procure.
He was speaking during the 2022 commemoration of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day on the theme: “We are Committed”, organised by the Global Communities, in partnership with the USAID, Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service and Be Girl.
Currently, a condom in the market cost between GHC ¢3 and GHC ¢5, while a sanitary pad ranged from Gh¢8 to Gh¢10.
“Sex is a choice, but mensuration is not a choice, so the government can remove taxes on sanitary pads to make it affordable, especially to rural girls.
“A school girl should not be worried about where to buy a pad when she is menstruating or a parent should not be thinking of where to get money to buy a pad for the daughter who is in school,” Mr Sumbo explained.
He explained that the prohibitive cost of sanitary pads did not only sometimes keep the girl out of school, but also led to preventable teenage pregnancy as the girl who could not afford it would depend on men for it and in turn pay back with sex.
“If parents also ensure that the pads are available to their wards, it will help prevent some of these pregnancies, and they will be comfortable in the school,” Mr Sumbo said.
Madam Janet Kpan, the Upper West Region Girl Child Coordinator at the GES, said stigmatization against girls by both teachers and students discouraged them from going to school during menstruation.
She said mensuration should not be a barrier to girls’ education and stressed the need for NGOs and individuals who wished to support school girls to provide them with reusable sanitary pads.
It is estimated that a girl loses 14 years of her educational life if she would be absent from school during menstruation, which was not acceptable.
Madam Kpan said they were educating the girls on menstrual hygiene management to enable them stay in school during their menstrual period.
Madam Sophia Dimah Nandzo, the Wa Municipal Director of Education, indicated that menstrual hygiene education should not be on designated days only, but an everyday activity.
While calling on parents to educate their wards on menstrual hygiene management, she also entreated the school children to be ambassadors of menstrual hygiene campaigns among their peers both at home and in the schools.
As part of the celebration, school children from the Wa Module, Huriya Islamic, and St. Andrews Basic Schools in Wa, Queen mothers, representatives of women groups, and other stakeholders and partners marched through some principal streets of Wa.
They carried placards some of which read: “Be active, be a girl, Be in School;” “End the Stigma” and “Let us break the barriers” among others.
The celebration was also characterized by poetry recitals and drama from the school children to dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding menstruation and the need for support for the girls to stay in school during menstruation.