Girls Flow Free (GFF) Foundation, a Nongovernmental Organisation, has supplied menstrual pads to more than 1000 student girls writing this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
About 42 junior high schools in nine regions of Ghana are benefiting from the gesture, which is in response to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on girls in the country.
Founder and Executive Director of GFF Foundation Mrs Sophia Acheampong, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview said the move was also part of increased efforts by GFF to break barriers menstruation imposes on the health and wellbeing of girls in Ghana.
She congratulated the BECE candidates, particularly girls, for enduring plethora of challenges that the coronavirus outbreak had imposed on them.
There were concerns about access to safe menstrual products by girls during the lockdown, largely due to shop closures and restricted movement of people and goods.
The COVID–19 lockdown presented practical challenges for many girls in deprived communities in Ghana about managing their periods, Mrs Acheampong said, because several parents lost their jobs in addition to sluggish business activities.
Therefore, she said parents struggled financially to afford basic items during the period as many could not provide menstrual pads for their menstruating girls.
“But periods don’t stop in pandemic, every time girls have periods and will need pads.”
“After an initial assessment with the team, it became evident that the girls that we support would need our support even now than never though schools were closed,” she said.
In response to the menstrual needs of the girls, she added a COVID-19 team was put together and all school outreaches of the foundation cancelled.
She also said, “As our duty of care to our volunteers here in the UK and Ghana, we have sent briefs on how to protect themselves and their families.”
The team had been on the ground working with dedicated teachers and head teachers, supplying girls with COVID-19 menstrual supplies, she added.
In many parts of Ghana, menstruation is seen as a taboo, generating fear and stigma among several adolescent girls.
Also, owing to financial struggles among parents, young girls in deprived rural communities are unable to access safe menstrual products, forcing them to using unhygienic items like rags and papers.
This, Mrs Acheampong described as unacceptable in the 21st century, and added that, considering cultural, social, and ethical values, “GFF is working to change the experiences for Ghanaian girls.”
“Our contribution will break barriers that menstruation imposes on the health and wellbeing of girls,” she added.
This year’s BECE will commence Monday, September 14, with 531,705 candidates in 2,007 examination centres countrywide.
Out of the number, 269,419 are males while 262,286 are females.