The International Non-governmental Organization “ActionAid Liberia” with implementing partners, women movements, and youth networks is calling on the government of Liberia to declare Executive order on free taxes on sanitary pads and to increase the Gender Responsive Budget that will enable Girls and Women across the country to have free and easy access to Sanitary pads during their menstrual periods.
The menstrual hygiene management awareness journey which started on the 26th of May, 2022, where various schools around Montserrado including the D-12 public High school on New Kru Town Bushrod Island, Liberian International Islamic school, Rehab Home of the Disabled benefited from the discussion sessions of Menstrual Hygiene management which climaxed with the distribution of sanitary pads across all schools.
On May 27, 2022, part of the bigger awareness was the donation of sanitary dignity kits to the Monrovia Central Prison. Representing the office of the Superintendent of the prison madam Janet K. Siryee Mulbah Superintendent for Operations in Monrovia Central Prison labeled the donation as “Gold” that the prison is always searching for, she noted that menstrual hygiene management is one of the greatest challenges they are faced with.
“This donation will really help to curb the situation we are faced with in our prison” she noted. She urged AAL and partners to replicate this donation in all central prisons across the 15 counties of Liberia as the need is very huge.
Speaking during the World Menstrual day Celebration on May 27, 2022, in Monrovia, Action Aid Liberia Program Coordinator/Sexual Harassment, Exploitation, and Abuse(SHEA) and Safeguarding Focal Point Ms. Gloria D. Yancy stated that Sanitary and Dignity Kits are part of Human rights basic needs.
She encouraged all businesses, and institutions of Liberia to take action in making sure sanitary and dignity kits are available at their business centers, to encourage women’s participation in workspaces, therefore, contributing to better work results.
“Make a MUST – LAW for all offices, companies, and organizations in Liberia to put sanitary and dignity kits, including male and female condoms in all bathrooms. This aligns with the fulfillment of Gender-Responsive Public Services (GRPS) promised by the Liberian government” the women consortium asserted.
Accordingly, Women and girls are confronted with an exceptional threat of lack of access to sanitary and dignity kits across the universe causing the majority of them to have difficulties in accessing dignity kits, thereby resulting in using clothes and other materials that have created a devastating impact on their health due to lack of proper management.
The INGO with the women consortium demanded the Government of Liberia to
Increase Gender budgeting with a special focus on the provision of sanitary dignity services and make importation of sanitary pads duty-free and completely remove all related taxes on Sanitary and Dignity kits for women.
Furthermore, they are calling for accessibility and availability of Sanitary pads in the public spaces (Banks, Religious, traditional institutions, schools, marketplaces, tax ranks, alongside the roads for long-distance routes, and prisons among others) and ensure the provision of adequate safe spaces with clean and hygienic washing facilities where women and girls can safely change themselves during the menstrual periods.
They encourage the inclusiveness of sanitary pads disposal bags by the manufacturers while the disposal bags should be included in the sanitary pads box, which will promote proper disposal for a clean and safe environment.
Highlighting some of the circumstances that affected the affordability and accessibility of their sanitary dignity kits, they noted that the current Russia – Ukraine conflict is a cause of concern that has economically affected the prices of all basic commodities including affordability and accessibility to sanitary and dignity kits, therefore contributing to the economic crisis for women living under difficult circumstances.
“The economic crisis has contributed to the exacerbation of inequalities, especially for women and girls, as well as discrimination of other marginalized groups such as women with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse”.
Meanwhile, ActionAid Liberia and all women structures involved have acknowledged their re-commitment to supporting all procedures that will promote the accessibility and affordability of Sanitary Dignity kits for girls and women, therefore promoting freedom of movement, and the ability to clean themselves at all levels of health centers, public spaces at national and community levels.
They re-affirmed to continue their advocacy in ensuring an equitable Gender response that will not further discriminate and exclude the most at risk.
Reported by: Joseph Tumbey