The Coordinator for the Tax-Free Period Campaign in Ghana, Vivian Akligo has urged the Ministry of Finance to include a proposal for tax relief on sanitary pads in the national budget for 2024.
She is pleading with the government to grant tax exemptions to Ghanaians so that they can take a break from the negative social and economic effects of crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and other world economic downturns.
“On behalf of our campaign team, I humbly implore the Finance Ministry of Ghana to take into account our request for tax relief on all sanitary products in the 2024 budget.
“Menstrual hygiene is a right, not a luxury, and we set out to change perceptions and policies to reflect this reality in order to ensure that every woman and girl has access to affordable, high-quality menstrual hygiene products without experiencing financial hardship because of their affordability”.
Vivian Akligo, a Women Deliver Young Leader and a supporter of women’s reproductive health, has urged all national stakeholders to join her in calling for policymakers to be held accountable, for policies to be changed, and for a future where periods are common and sanitary pads are easily available and affordable, even to the most marginalized groups in our communities.
Tax-Free Period Campaign in Ghana aims to abolish menstrual hygiene taxes and tackle health, education, and gender equality.
The objective is to reduce financial burdens, promote greater inclusivity, and ensure that women and girls, especially in underprivileged communities, have better access to essential health products.
It also seeks to challenge the systemic barriers, including norms and policies, that aided the ‘draconian imposition’ of taxes on menstrual hygiene products, hindering the dignity and well-being of women and girls, and place on the government agenda the need to reclassify sanitary towels as essential products.
Through strategic advocacy, Mrs. Akligo and her team have firmly placed the critical issue of menstrual hygiene management on the national agenda through their social media campaign, engagement with stakeholders, submission of a petition to the ministry of finance, and rallying alongside other CSOs to petition the speaker of Parliament.
In support of the Tax-Free Period Campaign, on May 28, 2023, she partnered with CSOs from across the country to deliver a petition to the speaker of Parliament.
This formed part of activities held in commemoration of the 2023 Menstrual Hygiene Day, which saw the campaigners rally around the #MyPeriodMattersCampaign, including holding a series of activities to strongly advocate, drum home their campaign messages, and bring pressure to bear on the government to do the needful.
Period poverty is an international crisis that remains largely unaddressed. It refers to the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and waste management, much of which can be attributed to financial constraints.
The United Nations has characterized period poverty as a violation of human rights. Akligo echoes the sentiment, describing the taxation on menstrual products as an unjust economic burden that disproportionately blights women.
According to the passionate Women Deliver Young Leader, who is also a dedicated feminist leader and an acclaimed advocate for women’s reproductive health, the financial burden of menstrual hygiene products has a far-reaching implication, affecting not only individuals but also families’ economic stability and the nation’s prosperity.
She averred that by alleviating this burden, Ghanaians will be contributing to unlocking a brighter future for adolescent girls and young women, including families.
“We have mobilized diverse stakeholders, sparking conversations on the need for the government to exempt sanitary products from taxes, including locally manufactured products.
We hope that as discussions are ongoing in Parliament on this issue, our parliamentarians will see this not just as a mere fiscal decision but a transformative step towards achieving a more equitable society”, Mrs. Akligo posited
Akligo’s tireless advocacy has begun to ripple changes across communal dialogues and policy discussions. She has succeeded in fostering an environment that encourages nationwide conversation, steering the spotlight towards an increasingly acknowledged issue.
The Tax-Free Period Campaign has already garnered ample support from activists, public figures, and civil society organizations. However, Vivian acknowledges that the real triumph would be the government’s integration of the no tax on period products initiative into the forthcoming 2024 budget.
Her plea for the removal of the menstrual product tax is not just about supporting women’s rights to health and hygiene. It is about taking significant strides towards gender equality and economic equality, and most importantly, it is about upholding human rights.
Budget policies should consistently reflect the nation’s attempt at nurturing an inclusive, fair society, and introducing a tax-free period is an integral part of that attempt.
Consideration of a tax-free period in the 2024 budget is undoubtedly an urgent appeal. Vivian’s persistent advocacy and the widespread support for the Tax-Free Period Campaign should prompt government leaders to critically evaluate and reconsider their fiscal policies surrounding menstruation products.
Mrs. Akligo’s fight is against mounting odds, but like many women who’ve spearheaded change, she hopes to transform normalized injustice into necessary reform.
As global conversations rooted in equity and inclusivity continue to evolve, her campaign reignites the pressing need for progress towards a tax-free period.