Activists and teachers in the Upper East Region have called on the Ministry of Education to consider in its budget, the provision of free sanitary pads for schoolgirls from very poor homes who could not afford to purchase the commodity during their menstrual periods.
The stakeholders including teachers and students made the call at separate Mentorship for Adolescent Girls forums at Nabdam, Talensi, Bongo, Kassena-Nankana municipal, Bawku West and Builsa South districts of the region.
The mentorship programme organised by the Regional Office of the Department of Gender, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to educate adolescent girls on their reproductive health received funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) and the Global Affairs of Canada.
The stakeholders made the call when majority of schoolgirls at the forums indicated that they could not afford to buy sanitary pads resulting in them missing classes during their menstrual periods which could lead to their dropping out of school.
Some of the schoolgirls stated that they often resorted to selling the products of others after classes to save money to purchase sanitary pads. Others also indicated that they were forced to offer themselves to men for sex to get money to purchase the commodity.
According to UN estimates, one in 10 girls from Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle, with some missing out on 20 per cent of their education period.
Speaking to the Ghanaian Times at the sensitisation forums, the Regional Director of the Department of Children, Mrs Georgina Aberese-Ako, explained that the absence of appropriate sanitary materials to absorb menstrual flow did not only affect female’s reproductive health but affected their education
“Studies show that the absence of appropriate sanitary materials to absorb menstrual flow does not only affect female’s reproductive health but their acquisition of education since girls often choose to stay at home when they have their periods,” she stressed.
Mrs Aberese-Ako stated that most of the girls from poor homes who cannot afford to buy the product often resorted to using toilet tissue and re-useable cloths which she stressed were very dangerous to reproductive health.
She, therefore, proposed the provision of free disposable sanitary pads to assist brilliant but poor school girls remain in school and to help address the reproductive needs of the girls.
Mrs Aberese-Ako cited Rwanda where the Ministry of Education has a budget line to support girls’ access to sanitary pads at some basic education level and called on government to take a cue from that.
The Regional Director called on teenage girls to desist from any practice that could jeopardise their reproductive well-being in future and told them that with discipline and hard work, they could pursue education to higher heights just like their male counterparts.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, NANGODI