Have you ever heard of pink tax? It’s the extra cost that is applied to products marketed towards women, with the term stemming from the observation that many of these products are pink. Sometimes the extra costs are taxes, but more often it’s simply gender-based price discrimination. 

It’s been around for some time:

Throughout history, “women’s” products have been set at a higher price point due to a “clever” marketing strategy compared to “men’s product’s”. Some corporations have taken advantage of women’s buying habits by taking what can only be considered gender-neutral products, put them in pink’ish packaging that refers to an outdated female stereotype, and upped the price point. A study carried out by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in 2015 showed that the Pink Tax is most noticeable in the personal care department where womxn generally are charged 13% more than men for essentially the same products. Here, products like shampoo and conditioner cost on average 48 percent more when marketed towards women. Deodorant has a 3 percent price difference, and lotion is 11 percent. Across all types of products, the study found that womxn’s products, on average, are 7 percent more expensive than similar products targeted towards men.

Femcare is where it’s most noticeable

Femcare is a term used to cover the female hygienic products industry. One of the areas of Pink Tax that gets the most attention is the infamous Tampon Tax – a tax that is applied to tampons, pads, panty liners, etc. because these products are deemed non-essential and a luxury product. We get it if you’re a little taken aback by that sentence. How are pads, panty liners, tampons and such not deemed an everyday necessity? For a long time, they have not been considered so – but in 2007, the EU introduced a new directive that allowed member states to reduce the tampon tax down to 5 percent. Yet still, less than half the member states have reduced the tampon tax to 15 percent or less. In countries like Denmark, Croatia and Sweden, the Tampon tax is at 25 percent, and in Hungary it’s at 27 percent.

At DUSK we think that we all need to work together to advocate for equal rights and fairness when it comes to gender- and menstrual equity, and a good place to start is to demand economic justice; because being a born in a certain body should not mean being financially punished. 

Notes and research:
de Blasio, B., Menin, J. (2015): From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer New York City Department of Consumer Affairs 
 Del Vayo, M. A., Belmonte, E.: Half of the European countries levy the same VAT on sanitary towels and tampons as on tobacco, beer and wine, European Data Journalism Network.