By Makeida Antonio
The access girls and women have to certain feminine products will be debated in Parliament this week.
The National Youth Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda (NYPAB) will be having its first sitting for the year to debate the Feminine Hygiene Products Bill 2022 on Friday.
Members will debate the Bill with the aim of addressing and positing solutions to the recurrent issue of period poverty, where the lack of finances a person has can prevent them from obtaining feminine products due to the price.
Public Relations Officer of NYPAB Kaiesha Joseph believes it is important that the public gives its attention to this sitting for educational purposes regarding the biological function of the menstrual cycle.
“Menstrual cycle is not a choice. Sanitary products are therefore a necessity for women and girls however many cannot afford the products, which is unfortunate. They are then forced to practice poor menstrual hygiene by using toilet paper, rags, or any other unsanitary product that they believe can contain their menstrual flow,” Joseph said in an interview.
She also highlighted the opportunity for boys and men to learn about period poverty during the debate so they can be aware of how to assist the high percentage of girls and women around the country who are experiencing it.
“As a result, we believe that awareness is the first step to the solution of period poverty and we aim to educate the public about it. We also hope that business owners and government officials tune in and understand the urgent need to lower prices and remove tax on sanitary products,” Joseph added.
Additionally, NYPAB hopes financially stable citizens will be encouraged to donate sanitary products to schools and organisations so that there are available for the persons who are currently facing the “global, long-standing, unfortunate situation”.
A motion will also be tabled during the sitting for the reformation and redevelopment of the Civil Service, seeking to push for advancement of skills in the Civil Service, while aiming for efficient delivery of service.
The debate will commence at 9:30 am, at the Parliament Building, Queen Elizabeth Highway, St. John’s. The general public is invited and has been asked to observe all Covid- 19 protocols.
The NYAB has been in operation for the last two years and seven months and currently has 85 members.
It previously debated the Mental Health and Youth in Rehabilitation Bills in 2020 and Youth in Agriculture and Campaign Finance Bills in 2021.
However, since the relaxation of Covid-19 protocols, it is set to have two separate debates for the bills on its legislative agenda for 2022.
According to Joseph, there are six standing committees of the Association.
The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for the orderly conduct of all members and the execution of elections of members to the Executive Board and the National Youth Parliament.
The Legislative & Parliamentary Committee is responsible for assisting in the organization of the parliamentary sittings by drafting the Bills and resolutions for the National Youth Parliament debates.
The Training Committee is responsible for organizing training sessions in a variety of areas such as public speaking, speech writing, and programme planning, to ensure members’ skills are maintained.
The Public Relations and Communications Committee is responsible for the oversight and management of all social media platforms of the Association and interaction with traditional media outlets. Additionally, the committee is responsible for the branding of the Association and membership recruitment.
The Finance Committee is responsible for overseeing the collection of dues, giving account for the dues collected, providing oversight for the finances of all events, assisting the Financial Secretary in audits and budgeting,
The Community Outreach & Social Committee is responsible for the planning and execution of community outreach projects and social activities.
The committee liaises and assists community groups across the country and is the main assistant to the Youth MPs of the Association when executing community-based initiatives. Additionally, the committee holds the responsibility of planning social activities for the members of the Association.