Executive Director of Inspire Foday Foundation, Etornam Sey has backed the passing of a bill to remove taxes from menstrual hygiene products and classify them as essential products in Ghana.
The bill, which is a private member bill was presented by Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina Constituency, Xavier Sosu advocates for the removal of taxes on menstrual hygiene products. It is also seeks for the reclassification of sanitary pads and tampons to zero-rated essential goods.
Speaking in an interview with UniversNews, Mrs. Sey expressed her agreement with the bill, further explaining how the move will benefit her Foundation in its objectives.
“…government must make sanitary pads as part of the essential drugs so that if the Ministry of Health or the Ghana Health Service import these products, they will not have to pay taxes. And so the prices will not go high, so that if an NGO like [Inspire Today Foundation] needs to collect the sanitary pads from the Ministry of Health or the Ghana Health Service, it will be at a very low price. The Ministry of Health will only have to ensure that I am using it for the purpose on which I say I will use it, which is distributed to deprived girls in deprived communities.”
Citing the good work that the Inspire Today Foundation has been embarking on, Mrs Sey highlighted the importance of the bill to her organisation and other several similar organisations.
“We have supported more than 30 ,000 girls across the country. We have been to the Northern region, we have been to the Volta region, central region, and at least 5 constituencies here in the Greater Accra region. And we have supplied all these pads and we have bought them with our own money. And you can imagine that buying imported sanitary pads with all the taxes on it is very expensive. If this bill is passed into law, it will ensure that, as we are getting ready for International Day of the Girl Child, we will be able to support some 4 ,000 girls with sanitary pads.”
“With one sanitary pad currently costing between Ghc 17 and 28, if we are supposed to buy three pads for each girl, we will not be able to if the price is high. We will be able to buy just one, which will last just a month. It means that after one month, they are going back to using the unhygienic product. However, if the taxes are removed, it means that we will be able to buy a lot more with small amounts of money and we may be to even stretch to about six months supply for the girls,” she added.
Inspire Today Foundation is a network organization nurturing a nationwide movement of female leaders through a concerted effort at achieving the sustainable development goals 3 and 5 which is promoting good health and well being and enforcing gender equality.
With period poverty being a main issue for girls in Ghana, where they are unable to afford menstrual hygiene products to handle their menstrual health, the Foundation has been advocating for the exemption of menstrual hygiene products from the 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) that has been imposed on them. Inspire Today believes with the tax exemption, girls all over the nation would be able to easily handle their menstrual health through the needed products to effectively contribute to the nation’s development in turn.
In the meantime the organisation has been donating sanitary pads to girls in various parts of the country who may not be able to afford them. It is the Foundation’s hopes that by removing the VAT on menstrual hygiene products, their donation programs may widen all over the country to promote menstrual health in the country.
Story by: Esenam Esther Ofori | univers.ug.edu.gh