Coalition appeals for abolishing taxes on sanitary pads

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    The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) against Sanitary Pad Taxation has appealed to the Ministry of Finance to abolish taxes on sanitary pads to improve menstrual hygiene and quality of life for girls in the country.

    As Ghana joins the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s International Day of the Girl-Child, the coalition described the present charges of 20 per cent and an additional 12.5 per cent VAT on sanitary pads as luxurious.

    International Day of the Girl-Child is celebrated on October 11 every year and is dedicated to the growth of girls around the world.

    The United Nations Day focuses on the rights, safety and education of girls and its core objective is to make girls an active part of the progress of the world.

    Membership of the coalition comprises 14 CSOs including the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Revenue Mobilisation Africa (RMA), Africa Education Watch, Renel Ghana, Muslim Family Counselling Services, Sung Foundation, Greater Accra Youth Network, Alliance of Feminine CSOs and Girls Not Bride Ghana.

    The rest are the Global Media Foundation, Africa Civil Society Alliance on Child Rights, Centre for Youth Analysis, Ghana Education Forum and the Ghana TVET Coalition.

    A press statement issued and jointly signed by members of the Coalition and made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Monday in Sunyani said, “the fact that this tax is directly targeted at females for a natural occurrence in their reproductive process they have no choice or control over makes the tax highly unjust and immoral.”

    “The choice of whether to keep clean and safe or not is one that a state should never have to present to its people, particularly to the vulnerable sections of society. The taxes on sanitary pads have made the product very expensive and inaccessible to many low-income households who must choose between the pads and competing needs.”

    According to UNESCO, most girls are absent from school for four days a month and end up losing 13 learning days equivalent to every school term.

    In an academic year of nine months, a girl loses 39 learning days equivalent to six weeks of learning time due to the lack of sanitary pads with dire consequences for life outcomes.

    “This is why we are passionate about this issue because any policy that discriminately pushes a section of its population into poverty has no place in an inclusive and democratic state.

    Fortunately, though the action is yet to be taken, successive governments have recognized the harmful nature and effect of this policy on the health and dignity of females,” it indicated.

    The statement called on Vice President Dr Bawumia to urge the Finance Ministry to remedy “this injustice in the forthcoming 2022 budget expected to be presented to Parliament in November 2021.”

    “Ghana can and should follow the example of Kenya which cancelled taxes on sanitary pads as far back as 2004 and which has since been budgeting about US$3 million per year to distribute free sanitary pads in low-income communities. Since then, Rwanda and South Africa have also cancelled sanitary pads taxes,” the release added.