A research and advocacy based non-governmental organization, Child Online Africa (COA), is calling for the slashing of the 20% tax on sanitary pads to make it affordable for young girls.
The call comes through a press release on a day designated to celebrating women across the globe, which is the International Women’s Day to throw more light on women issues.
This year’s celebration is under the theme “Balance-for-Better”, and it seeks a balanced level playing field for both men and women.
As part of activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day, Child Online Africa is advocating that tax on sanitary pads be slashed to make room for young girls to purchase them, and thereby go to school comfortably with their male counterparts.
In some parts of Ghana and some other parts of the world, girls who get to attend school tend to face a number of disruptions due to various factors including the natural phenomenon of menstruation.
“Menstruation has been proven to be a strong barrier to girls’ education. Some effects of poor menstrual hygiene management (MHM) on the education of adolescent girls include school absenteeism, distraction during lessons and increased school drop-out rates,” Child Online noted in the press release.
According the advocacy group, most girls consistently miss school during their periods because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads and fear they will be ridiculed if they soil their uniforms.
The group also stated that some girls tend to rely on absorbents such as dirty rugs, dried corn husks, paper and others since they are less expensive than sanitary pads.
It is on the back of these difficulties girls go through during their menstruation period that the advocacy group has been calling for taxes to be taken off to make sanitary pads more affordable.
“Presently, the harmonized system used by the Ghana Revenue Authority classification for sanitary pad is not favourable for girls and women. The classification qualifies the pads in luxury category when it is supposed to be an essential item for EVERY adolescent girl.
“Until sanitary pads are correctly categorized as basic essentials and practical policy and programme interventions are instituted, the gender gap cannot be bridged,” the group stressed.
The Child Online Africa advocacy group therefore urged government to make pads less expensive just like has been done for condoms.
“It is interesting to know however that condoms attract zero percentage tax. If condoms which are used voluntarily attract no tax why should sanitary pads which are not used by choice but as a necessity attract so much tax? This issue has been raised a number of times, however there seems to be no reaction from the authorities concerned.”
The advocacy group further charged government to ensure gender equality in areas such as recruitment for employment and admission into schools without looking at the fundamental issues that cause girls’ education and potential to be cut off.