You may have seen #RespectTheTampon posters in the bathrooms around school, and wondered what they were about, well I’m going to tell you. A couple weeks ago I heard about
how some of the students at AGS were sticking pads and tampons to the ceiling of the bathroom. When I first heard about this I was shocked, at first I laughed because I thought that it was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe that someone would waste such a precious and valued commodity. The hypocrisy of it all is what astounded me the most because as people who use femine products ourselves and have to pay for them, it astonishes me to think that people in our AGS community would blatantly waste something that is extremely valued all around the world. Now I’m not here to chastise the guilty party, but rather to inform you about the importance and the value of feminine products. We here at AGS are extremely privileged to be able to have menstrual products provided for us at no cost, which is why it is incredibly important to learn about the issues around menstruation and feminine hygiene products.
The “pink tax”, though it’s not actually a tax, is a term that refers to gender-based pricing.
This means that on average the difference between the prices of products marketed towards women are higher than men, this difference is around 13%. This is not the only upcharge that these consumers would have to pay, if they also menstruate. The “tampon tax” is a term regarding the sales tax of feminine products, though it’s a regular sales tax it only affects people who menstruate and use femine products. As of now 35 states still continue to tax feminine hygiene products. Recent studies of low-income women in large cities throughout the U.S have shown that around half of women were not able to afford both menstrual products and food in the past year. Additionally, menstrual products are not covered by government grocery-assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The issue of affordability and accessibility of femine hygiene products is not only a problem in the U.S, but all around the world. Some studies that were done in Africa have found that one in ten girls do not go to school when they are menstruating. Additionally, another problem that occurs globally is lack of education about menstruation. Studies have shown that many women do not have previous knowledge about menstruation before their first period. Additionally, the results of research done in Iran found that around half of the women thought that menstruation was a disease. The reasons for the lack of knowledge have to deal with certain stigmas around menstruation, but the more society normalises menstruation, the easier it will be to get rid of stigmas. The stigmas around menstruation make it harder for people to be educated about it because no one wants to talk about it. This can also cause problems regarding your health, studies in the UK found that around 80% of adolescent girls had severe and concerning menstrual symptoms and did not talk to doctors or other health professionals, and 27% said they didn’t discuss it because they felt embarrassed. While affordability and accessibility of menstrual products continues to be a pressing issue, the normalising and education of menstruation is pertinent in order to decrease possible health risks for people who menstruate.
You can visit these websites below to learn more about movements to end taxes on menstruation products.