Minister Calls for affordable sanitary products to combat period poverty

Dr Otiko Afisah Djaba, a former Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MOGCSP), has urged the government to exempt menstrual sanitary products from taxation for effective management of menstrual health.

Additionally, she has called for the establishment of factories to produce affordable, Ghana-made menstrual sanitary products from alternative materials such as banana fiber among others.

She said this initiative when rolled out would go a long way to protect adolescent girls from sexual exploitation by men and boys, who often use sanitary products as payment in exchange for sex.

Dr Djaba, who said this in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency to mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, called for the urgent need to address issues related to child prostitution and child sex exploitation for sanitary essentials and basic needs.

The annual celebration, aimed to raise public awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene practices, highlighting the challenges faced by women and girl
s in managing their periods.

The former Gender Minister, who is now the Executive Director of Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, also stressed the need to break free from harmful taboos and choices that perpetuate the exploitation of vulnerable adolescent girls.

Dr Djaba noted that good menstrual hygiene practices were crucial, especially in low-income Ghanaian households, where women and girls often face significant challenges in managing their periods.

‘Hearing of girls engaging in sex for menstrual essentials is like a horror movie and a nightmare,’ she stated, adding: ‘We need to have the courage as Ghanaians to do right to our girls’.

She described the situation as a grave national issue, which needed urgent attention from authorities to implement urgent strategic decisions and actions.

She noted that the move would ensure sustainable menstrual hygiene practices for the development of adolescent girls.

She urged the gender ministry to ‘wake up from its slumber to provide leadership and initiative pol
icy for a child benefit allowance for menstrual hygiene management on the LEAP based on proxy means test.’

Dr Djaba said setting up a menstrual hygiene management fund, where corporate bodies can contribute at least one percent of their corporate social responsibility portfolio would support the provision of sanitary essentials to vulnerable girls.

Additionally, individuals can contribute GHSS1 monthly to the fund, while the Ghana Education Service can budget for the supply and distribution of free sanitary pads to schools.

She said these strategies could ensure continuous sanitary essentials distribution to vulnerable girls in schools, as reusable products were often unhygienic, particularly in communities where water is scarce.

Dr Djaba also advised adolescent girls to practice self-discipline and not engage in sex work for menstrual hygiene supplies, as this could lead to loss of dignity, self-esteem, and respect.

Period poverty is defined as the inability to afford and access menstrual products, sani
tation and hygiene facilities and education and awareness to manage menstrual health.

Source: Ghana News Agency