The National Democratic Congress (NDC), as part of its mission to promote gender inclusiveness in Ghana’s education system, has promised to provide free sanitary pads to schoolgirls below the age of 20 should the party be voted into power come December.
Running Mate of the party, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, made this known at the NDC’s 2020 Manifesto launch held at the University of Professional Studies, Accra.
According to her, thousands of young girls miss as many as five days of school every month simply because they cannot afford sanitary pads, an “unacceptable” and “unfair” situation she said the NDC seeks to remedy.
“So we will provide free sanitary pads for girls to ensure a perfectly natural, perfectly normal part of their life’s functioning does not become a barrier to education and a better life. So we would focus on girls under 20 who are in school,” she said.
According to Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, issues of lack of access to sanitary pads should be a thing of the past.
She said: “This is a problem we should have left behind in the last century and which we tried to address in our last government. Our opposition ridiculed this idea, but then let us hope the lessons of governance have made them much much wiser.”
In 2014, the then Mahama-led government procured a $156 million World Bank loan, part of which was used to provide free sanitary pads to adolescent school girls in less- privileged Senior High Schools.
The initiative was widely ridiculed and criticised by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and some Ghanaians.
Offering free sanitary pads to the adolescent schoolchildren at that time was seen as a ‘wasteful’ venture in view of the short supply of learning and teaching aids such as chalks.
But the Ministry of Education, which was then headed by Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, justified its actions insisting that the distribution of the sanitary pad was necessary to prevent the young girls from dropping out of school.
Meanwhile, the governing NPP has pledged to eliminate import duties on sanitary pads should Ghanaians give them a second tenure.
Reading the party’s 2020 Manifesto, Vice President Dr Mahammudu Bawumia said the move is to improve health conditions of the students, particularly among females.
He noted that the move has become necessary since some female students absent themselves from classes because they cannot afford sanitary pads.
“What we aim to really do is to make sure that we produce the sanitary pads in Ghana so until that happens in its numbers we are going to eliminate the import duties [on sanitary pads] to bring down the cost,” he said.