Like most things, feminine hygiene products cost money and are often taxed as though they are not essential. The tampon tax is seen as a blatant gender injustice, as women are being financially punished for their natural menstrual cycles.
To some, it may not seem like too much. Women only get their period once a month, right? But it adds up. For example, on average women in California pay around $7 a month for period supplies, which amounts to over $20 million in taxes annually that women, who are already impacted by the wage gap, need to pay. That’s a lot for a basic necessity.
While some taxes are being lifted across the nation and world, the amount of access to free products is sparse, which impacts low-income women. Period poverty is a term used to describe the situation women face that is all too common: lacking access to pads and tampons because of financial issues
Shoutout to Scotland
To combat period poverty and gender inequality, Scotland just announced that it will be testing a new program that will provide free sanitary products to low-income women. The sixth-month initiative will start by sending products to secondary schools, a college, food banks and a handful of charities. The Scottish Government will use the results from the program to inform long term policy.
The Scottish Government has been receiving all sorts of praise. Ida Tin, CEO of Clue, a women’s health app, said “We are seeing initiatives like this occurring within many different pockets of society, and I will always welcome such schemes.”
Additionally, a number of individuals are calling for greater accessibility and a stronger approach to ending period poverty. “It would be wonderful if this were to be piloted throughout the UK, but also in the US, in Germany, in Spain. It would be ideal for this to be commonplace across the globe,” Tin said. “A pilot scheme is a welcome step in the right direction, but we must go much further to help women and girls across the country who are facing a monthly struggle to access the products they need,” said Scottish Parliament Member Monica Lennon.
The progress Scotland is making is huge, but period poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed globally. Hopefully, other nations will follow Scotland’s lead in instituting their own initiatives.
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