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Women replaces Sanitary pad with baby diapers due to its high cost-Loretta Ashie

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A member of the Socialist Movement of Ghana (SMG) Women’s’ Wing, madam Loretta Naa Ashie has reveled that, due to the high cost of Sanitary pad in Ghana as a result of the 20% tax imposed on its importation by government , women has now resulted in using baby diapers which is a little cheaper.

“Many women has stopped using sanitary pads because it is expensive. They are now resulting in using baby diapers that will stay for long”.

She made this known in an interview, when SMG Women’s’ Wing together with Yebetumi, Obasima etc, and thousands of individual concerned men and women, presented a Petition requesting Parliament to protect the health, dignity, and full participation in society of Ghanaian women through inter alia greater public investment in accurate information, and education, about menstruation in general; the removal of taxes on female hygiene products; and the provision of subsidies on female hygiene products.

Loretta Ashie pointed out that, government of the day is treating Sanitary pad as a luxury product of which it attracts 20% import tax before all other VATs.

According to her, with menstruation, at most in every 3 to 4 hours, women has to change dialers adding that, some people have to use it for 8 hours because it is so expensive forgetting that it is causing life threatening infections. “It is affecting every woman and girl in Ghana and we think that, it is time for us to talk and the time is now”.

She however, called on the government to as a matter of urgency, drop the 20% import tax on sanitary pads saying, menstruation is not luxury hence, women don’t need to pay for it.

Many girls Loretta mentioned, are trading sex for 20 to 30 Ghana cedis just to buy menstruation pad.

She averred that, if government listened to their cry and removed the tax on sanitary pad, it is going to be cheaper and affordable for women.

Loretta Ashie further called on the government to also subsidies sanitary pad and distribute to school going girls in the country free.

“Like the government is running the free SHS. We think that it won’t cost much if they add free sanitary pad to the free SHS policy”.

Below is the detail petition :

Petition requesting that Parliament protect the health, dignity, and full participation in society of Ghanaian women through inter alia greater public investment in accurate information, and education, about menstruation in general; the removal of taxes on female hygiene products; and the provision of subsidies on female hygiene products.

Honourable Members of Parliament
We your petitioners are non-partisan organisations of citizens – [SMG Women’s’ Wing, Yebetumi, Obasima etc] and thousands of individual concerned men and women who have joined this … march today. We are petitioning you as the Body exclusively vested by the 1992 Republican Constitution with the power to impose taxes on Ghanaians.

Honourable Members of Parliament
1. Our general concern is the marginalization of, and discrimination against, women in Ghana especially in the context of menstruation and access to feminine hygiene and health products. “Period poverty” adversely impacts the life of millions of Ghanaian women and girls. Millions of women are regularly denied the opportunity to make productive contributions to society because our society has failed to understand, de-stigmatize, and mainstream menstruation – a normal, healthy, biologically necessary monthly process. In our more traditional settings for example, menstruating women are still often physically excluded from communal and even family activities during menstruation. In our more “modern” society too, hundreds of thousands of young women are unable to attend school during their periods for social rather than medical reasons. They are placed at a competitive disadvantage with their male schoolmates. Their prospects in life are thus unfairly limited. Hundreds of thousands of working women are also unable to attend work during their periods for social rather than medical reasons. This impacts their career prospects unfairly. Millions of women are exposed to risk of infections that threaten fertility because they do not have access to sanitary product like pads, menstrual cups, tampons etc. – and are too embarrassed to demand their rights. This stigmatization of women must be addressed urgently by publicly funded information and education campaigns.

2. Beyond education and information, we must address the unreasonably high cost of feminine hygiene products which places them beyond the reach of millions of women. This can only be understood as disregard for the health and well-being women. The current classification of sanitary products, in the Harmonized System Code 9619001000 as “luxury products” results in the imposition of a 20% import tax which is then grossed up before imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) of 12.5% taxes on feminine hygiene products;
b. provision of subsidies on feminine hygiene products especially for women enrolled in recognised education programmes; and
c. allocation of public funding for public information and education on the nature of menstruation and its role in female health and fertility and the reproduction of humanity.

6. We appreciate that several different approaches are possible to achieving these demands. For that reason, we have not sought to be prescriptive about workable mechanisms. We hope that Parliament will invite us for good faith discussions to explore the options available for all of us. We will not however be ignored. We will not accept excuses about the state of the economy. The State has a more profound responsibility to its citizens than to international banks. We are happy to demonstrate the re-prioritisation of expenditures that will allow the State to meet our needs. We will continue to mobilise public and international opinion and pressure on policy and lawmakers on this issue.

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