Ghana will on Tuesday May 28, join the rest of the world in celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Menstrual Hygiene Day since its inception in 2014 has become an annual awareness day aimed at highlighting the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
The theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019—It's Time for Action—not only emphasizes 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. Here in Ghana, H.E President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Co-Chair of the Eminent Group of Sustainable Development Goals has demonstrated 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.
We however note with great concern that a major factor which has become a drawback to government's flagship drive over the years is the inability of many school girls to take full advantage of the Free Education policy and for those in lower levels to stay in school during their Menstrual periods.
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 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.
As we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day, we believe IT’S TIME FOR ACTION in a number of areas;
1. That government considers in the coming days, the incorporation of either a free sanitary towel supply or support system as part of the free SHS policy to ensure that girls are not left behind in the attainment of equal access to free and quality education.
2. A 20% tax regime on sanitary towels and the classification of such a basic need as luxury product be immediately scraped or significantly reduced.
3. That faith based organizations including churches and mosques will 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.
4. We urge the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, through its chairperson Hon. Sarah Adjoa Sarfo who doubles as Deputy Majority Leader to facilitate legislations 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.
It is worth mentioning that under the auspices of Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Member of Parliament for Manhyia South in Kumasi and Minister of Education, The Happy School Girl Project will from Tuesday May 28, facilitate Menstrual Hygiene Management sessions and distribute some 1000 packs of Be Girl PeriodPanties to school girls in the Constituency. While we acknowledge this gesture, we call on all well-meaning Ghanaians and business organizations to join in our collective efforts to #MakeGirlsHappyInSchool #ItsTimeForAction
Awo Aidam Amenyah
(Convener for Coalition)