The Coalition on Menstrual Hygiene is asking the government to consider the incorporation free sanitary towel supply as part of the free SHS policy.
This policy, or any such support system, according to the coalition, will ensure that girls are not left behind in the attainment of equal access to free and quality education.
According to the coalition, the lack of proper sanitary facilities for girls to use during their menstrual periods in schools has become a drawback to the government’s flagship education programme.
The situation, they argue, is making it difficult for many school girls to take full advantage of the Free Education policy and for those at lower levels to stay in school during their menstrual periods.
As Ghana joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day, convener of the Coalition, Awo Aidam Amenyah, in a release, said the government could make the free SHS policy more meaningful to girls in schools by providing the support system.
“The theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 – It’s Time for Action – not only emphasises the urgency of this public health issue but also highlights the transformative power of improved menstrual hygiene to empower the world’s women and girls and unlock their economic and educational opportunities,” she explained.
According to UNICEF, 1 out of 10 girls in Sub-Saharan African miss school during menstruation, thus missing a fifth of the academic year. Aside from this, there has only been a marginal improvement ever since, a study conducted by WaterAid, for example, shows that as a result of menstruation, 95% of girls failed to attend school during their periods.
The Coalition also wants the 20% tax regime on sanitary towels and the classification of such a basic need as luxury product be immediately scrapped or significantly reduced.
Faith-based organisations including churches and mosques, the group is entreating to increase their partnership with NGOs to collectively reach out to less-privileged school girls who are being deprived of education simply because of a natural cycle which ushers them into womanhood.
The group further urged the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, through its chairperson, Sarah Adjoa Sarfo, who doubles as Deputy Majority Leader, to facilitate legislation that will seek to check gender inequalities which exist in such unnoticeable forms as identified above.
“We would not hesitate to share our ideas with them in this regard,” she noted.
The Coalition has commended President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Co-Chair of the Eminent Group of Sustainable Development Goals, for demonstrating considerable commitment in not only fulfilling quality education requirements under SDG 4 but also championed the precepts of Ghana’s 1992 constitution by ensuring that education is made as practicably free as possible.