Amdiya Abdul-Latiff, CEO of EcoMe Africa, is on a mission to combat period poverty whilst creating economic opportunities for women in underprivileged communities. She revealed how girls in the poorest regions of Ghana result in many unhygienic and life-threatening ways whenever they have their periods.
Speaking more on the challenges facing young girls in these areas, Ms Abdul-Latiff recounted how she stumbled on this problem as a service teacher posted to a rural community.
Abdul-Latiff continued to reveal how many girls dropped out of school because they didn’t have the means to manage their periods safely and hygienically without embarrassing themselves in school.
“They were resulting in unhygienic means like using socks – which is very popular by the way; newspapers – easily available; dirty rags and dried leaves – also readily available in the rural communities. They are also unaware of their menstrual cycle, so it comes unannounced. Anything at all that can absorb blood is what they use.”
She also disclosed how men take advantage of the vulnerable situation to demand sex in exchange for money to buy sanitary towels. She added that in the absence of the pads, some girls used ash paste in their panties as blood absorbers.
“Some of them had no option but were pushed to exchange sex for pads. It is a common trade in the poorest areas of Ghana. Young girls are pushed to sleep with men, mostly older men, just so they can have money to purchase a sanitary pad,” Amdiya Abdul-Latiff told Joy Prime.
The high cost of sanitary towels has dominated conversations in the public sphere for decades. With the current economic issues, the situation seems to have gotten worse as prices hike more than 100%. Advocates for safe periods have petitioned the government to reduce taxes on this essential item, which unfortunately has a luxury tax imposed on it.
EcoMe Africa is introducing reusable sanitary pads, providing girls in deprived areas the opportunity to experience safe periods whilst saving money.