By Rebecca Ampah
Member of Parliament for Madina Constituency and Human Rights Lawyer, Francis Xavier Sosu has taken the conversation on Sanitary Pads taxation to another dimension stating that it is discriminatory.
The issue of taxation is one that has become very common in recent periods in Ghana. One that has become most talked about and debated on is the tax on Female Sanitary pads.
Wading deep into the conversations, the Human Rights Lawyer and Member of Parliament mentioned to Kafui Dey in an interview that, the tax placed on Sanitary pads sounds and sits as discriminatory while condoms stay untouched. He backed his position with provisions enshrined in Article 27 of Ghana’s Constitution which States that women should enjoy their rights without further discrimination. He argued that the 50% taxation on sanitary pads contradicts what the Constitution states.
He stressed that menstrual health and hygiene are inherent rights, and taxing these essential products disproportionately affects vulnerable individuals who may struggle to access them and in as much as there are not taxes on condoms, there shouldn’t be taxes on sanitary pads.
According to him, The proposed bill not only aims to eliminate the tax on sanitary pads but also seeks to review the taxation of raw materials used by local companies manufacturing pads. By doing so, it aims to reduce the overall cost of sanitary pads, making them more affordable for all women.
In an exclusive phone interview with Kafui Dey on GTV’s breakfast show, Mr. Sosu emphasized that menstruation is a biological function over which women have no control. It does not discriminate based on economic or social status, and thus, women should not be burdened with taxes for something they did not cause.
“Why would you tax pads, women don’t create their periods for themselves and they don’t have any choice to either have a period or not have a period and this one too, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or you are poor, whether you are in the city or you are in the village,” he quizzed.
Furthermore, Mr. Sosu argued that instead of using taxation to bridge inequality, the current practice promotes inequality, particularly against vulnerable women.
“I think that we are just not targeting these taxes well, so instead of using the tax to breach inequality, we are rather using the tax to perpetuate inequality, particularly against vulnerable class who are women,” he stated.
He called for a more effective and efficient tax collection system, coupled with efforts to minimize corruption and revenue leakage, as a way to avoid imposing taxes like the “pad tax” on women and girls.
“I believe that if we can manage our tax administration well, we can collect taxes effectively and efficiently, and we can ensure that we minimize corruption and revenue leakage we wouldn’t need to burden our women and girls particularly the most vulnerable with a tax like pad tax,” he added.
He therefore extended an urgent plea to all stakeholders, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Ministry of Finance, the Gender Ministry, Women Advocates, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in this domain, to come together for collaborative policymaking to ensure the best interests of Ghanaian females, especially those most vulnerable, are protected.