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Gov’t urged to help remove 20% luxury tax on menstrual hygiene products to advance women’s health

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The Country Director of Days for Girls Ghana (DFG), a non-profit organization, Sandra Boakye has called on government to urgently respond to the plight of women and girls and ensure the complete removal of 20% luxury tax on menstrual hygiene product into the country to allow free-flow, easy access and use of women and girls during their menstrual cycle periods.

According to her, this would go a long way to help address the issues of menstrual hygiene health that our women and girls are confronted with on a daily basis to advance their good health and well-being in the country at all times.

She made this known while addressing a capacity building session organized by her outfit for some selected journalists representing a cross section of the Ghanaian media in Accra on Monday September 20, 2021.

The beneficiaries were drawn from media houses such as GTV, Metro TV, Atinka TV, ATV, Sena Radio online, Ghanaian Times, Onua TV/Radio, 3FM/TV3 and the Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG).

The overall objectives of the training workshop was to build capacity of the media on menstrual health issues in Ghana and well position them to help educate the public as well as hold stakeholders accountable.

The participants were enlightened on a number of issues including the activities of the Days for Girls Ghana, menstrual health issues in Ghana, women’s reproductive health rights, highlights on the key role of media as a tool in promoting Menstrual Health Management (MHM) in Ghana and education on sustainable menstrual hygiene products.

The beneficiaries also had the opportunity to tour the Days for the Girls (DFG) washable pad production facility to familiarize themselves with their operation.

They were also introduced to the reusable pads produced by the organization through demonstration on how it works and its effectiveness in helping address the challenges of girls and women during the time of their menstrual cycle.

Issues of Menstrual Hygiene Health Management remains a major challenge for women and girls not only in Ghana but globally.

Although menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity, health and wellbeing of women and girls, yet managing menstruation by girls and women is another hurdle.

Most particularly, this is a dramatic issue in Ghana where the barrier of access to menstrual care and education can have far-reaching consequences in basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health.

Despite vigorous awareness creation efforts in Ghana, menstruation is still often considered a taboo subject, with many negative cultural attitudes associated; e.g. that menstruating women and girls are ‘contaminated’, ‘dirty’ and ‘impure’.

This has resulted in perpetuated community stigma and sanctions (in some cases) for women and girls having their periods.

At the height of the numerous barriers exacerbating menstrual hygiene management lies misconceptions and myths, lack of access to safe and hygienic products for most women and girls globally, lack of adequate Menstrual Health Hygiene Education, Products and Infrastructure as well as favourable policies to support menstruation at the community as well as institutional level.

Demystifying these barriers and more  requires a more coordinated approach by all stakeholders including the Media, Civil Society Organisations, NGOs, Government, Traditional Authorities, the Academia, Corporate Institutions, Individuals among others to holistically put the issue at rest.

It is on this backdrop that the Days for Girls Ghana (DFG), a non-profit organization has held a maiden capacity building for the selected media practitioners drawn from the mainstream media across the country.

Addressing the participants, Country Director of Days for Girls Ghana, Sandra Boakye charged the media to help prioritize menstrual hygiene issues; report effectively and efficiently on them to create the needed awareness it deserves to enable the authorities take urgent actions to resolve its numerous hitches which are barriers to dignity, health and well-being of our women and girls.

Ms. Boakye equally appealed to the government to demonstrate commitment towards issues pertaining to menstrual hygiene and access to its products to advance the health and well-being of women and girls in the country at all cost.

While lamenting the unfavourable policies on menstrual hygiene products which is a major gap (for example menstrual hygiene products subjected to 20% luxury tax), she urgently called on government to move swiftly into action and help scrap the 20% luxury tax to ensure the free flow of these products in the country to reach women and girls in every nook and cranny of the country without any glitches to end the menstrual hygiene health management issues the country is bedevilled with.

Amdiya Abdul Latiff, the officer in charge of Advocacy and Communication at Days for Girls Ghana encourages the participants to always endeavour to hold the government accountable in provision of WASH facilities and waste management as well as strongly advocate for the provision of free sanitary towels in schools.

For his part, Mr. Stephen Koranteng, Project Coordinator of Days for Girls Ghana questioned government’s commitment in terms of contribution towards the achievement of the Agenda 2030 when obviously it has not done enough to show his commitment in addressing issues of menstrual hygiene health management which he believes has linkages with the SDGs.

“How can you say that your commitment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is on course while forgetting about tackling issues of menstrual hygiene health management when we are aware that at least five (5) of the SDGs; poverty, well-being, quality education, clean water and sanitation and economic growth are directly linked to these issues”.

He therefore challenged the government to help prioritize menstrual hygiene health management issues affecting the country in recognition of his efforts towards realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Days for Girls Ghana is poised to help increase access to sexual and reproductive health education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigma and limitations for women and girls for improved health, education and livelihoods.

With the mission of turning periods into pathways of dignity, health and education, DFG is envisioned to create a world with dignity, health and opportunity for all believing in a world where periods are never a problem. In addition to that, a world where menstruators have knowledge, products and supportive environments to manage their periods.

The organization currently operates in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Central, Northern and Upper East Regions and has imparted the lives of 28,525 girls and 20,132 boys through menstrual health and hygiene education in Ghana and 34,047 menstrual kits distributed in beneficiaries’ communities.

The NGO has successfully implemented these outreach activities, in rural and urban centers, schools, markets and with other civil society organizations which include Plan Ghana, WaterAid, Ghana Education Service, Actionaid, Women in Law and Development in Africa, Right to Play Ghana and Rotary International among others.

Source:Joseph Kobla Wemakor

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