A private member’s bill proposing an amendment to remove the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on menstrual hygiene products has been sent to Parliament.
The proposed bill seeks to amend the VAT (Amendment) Act, 2022 (Act 1082) to remove the VAT on sanitary pads and tampons.
It will also push for the reclassification of the 20 per cent import tax on final consumer goods to zero-rated essential social goods and proscribe future taxation of such essential social goods.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, presented the proposed bill to the Clerk to Parliament last Thursday.
Providing the justification for introducing the bill in a memorandum accompanying the bill, the human rights lawyer said globally many women and girls faced challenges in managing their menstruation.
Mr Sosu explained that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) was defined as the practice of using clean materials to absorb menstrual blood that can be changed privately, safely, hygienically and as often as needed for the duration of the menstrual cycle.
In his view, often, the failure to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls could have far-reaching consequences for basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health, ultimately affecting the country’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals one, three, four, five, six and 10.
Goal one covers no poverty, three on good health and wellbeing; four on quality education; five on gender equality, six on clean water and sanitation, and 10 on reduced inequalities.
“Despite the fact that about a quarter of the world’s population menstruates, 500 million people have been left without access to menstrual hygiene products, leading to period poverty”.
“Period poverty, thus refers to the struggle to afford menstrual products, and the increased economic vulnerability menstruating people face due to the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies,” the MP, who is also one of the legislators who sponsored the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which was passed to scrap the death penalty and criminalised accusation of anyone as witchcraft.
Quoting authoritative sources globally, Mr Sosu said inadequate knowledge of menstrual issues among schoolgirls, unsuitable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities; limited access to sanitary kits and cultural barriers were some of the major factors hindering proper menstrual management among schoolgirls in low-and middle-income nations.
He added that globally, women were twice as likely as men to report any discrimination they suffered based on their sex.
With women making up the majority of Ghana’s population — 15.6 million representing 50.7 per cent of the population per the 2021 Population and Housing Census, and 85 per cent of women reported to be using sanitary pads as their main MHM material, he said the imposition of taxes on sanitation did not serve their interest.
“Imposing taxes on sanitation pads which is as a result of their menstrual cycle which is a natural phenomenon is unfair, discriminatory and violates both national law (Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution) and various international laws and treaties such as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Articles 24(1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on Rights of Children, and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, among others,” Mr Sosu said.
It is possible to remove tax
The MP cited how some countries had taken the lead and shown that it was possible to take the tax off menstrual products.
Mr Sosu said in 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products to all women.
SOURCE: graphic online