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Being a woman costs

Thanks to the pink tax and the tampon tax (and oh so many other things)

Following a post I wrote earlier this week on the reasons I want to start investing – and ahead of a personal project I’m close to kicking off – I’ve been doing some more research into inequality.

In my last post I wrote of the many reasons that women are held back financially and rather than going back and editing the first post I wanted to devote a page to a couple more ways in which we’re penalised:

  1. Tampon tax
  2. Pink tax

Tampon tax

Periods will cost a British woman an average of £4,800 throughout her lifetime. *

Just like a fish not knowing what water is, as with so much of inequality it all looks totally normal until you take a closer look. Sure, women have periods and periods need sanitary products so of course they need to pay for them. Right…? But without women having periods the human race would be in a lot of trouble. If we can get contraception offered free then why aren’t sanitary products free too? And if not free, then at the very least the tampon tax should be abolished – after all within the tax system crocodile meat, marshmallow teacakes, pitta bread, bingo, chickpeas and houseboat moorings are all considered to be household basics. And tampons ain’t.

Currently, women’s sanitary products (including tampons) are taxed at a reduced rate of 5%, which cannot be any lower, as dictated by EU law. § You can bet that’s not at the top of the agenda for many of the 450 male MPs in the House of Commons (there are currently 208 women MPs – 32% of the total when women make up 51% of the population of the UK). ¶

As Stylist have written about in a recent article “last summer, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products in all schools, colleges and universities – expanding on an earlier initiative that provided tampons and pads to low-income women and girls.”

This sort of problem can be solved, it can be addressed – it just needs someone who gives a damn who can make that happen.

Pink tax

The ‘pink tax’ is the nickname for the extra that companies love to charge women for similar products to men. According to research from RIFT women pay more for razors, deodorant and moisturiser amongst many other things. † In fact, the most egregious price difference RIFT found was for moisturiser, which cost women 34% more than men.

Next time you’re in your favourite clothes shop have a browse through the men’s and women’s t-shirts and you’ll see a similar thing crop up.


So, what can we do about this?

Use the BBC’s calculator to figure out how much you’ve been screwed out of to date. Then get angry…

And channel that anger into something that helps others; head on over to Bloody Good Period, read up, support them, share their posts and if you’re in a position to do so, donate to their cause – they were “started by Gabby Edlin who decided something needed to be done about the fact that very few food banks and asylum seeker drop-in centres were providing feminine hygiene products on a regular basis – despite a desperate need.”

Make some noise with your local MP so that they know that this is an issue that matters to you. Part of the financial penalty we suffer is as a result of the ‘tampon tax’ and with the right political pressure we can see it abolished.

Fight the pink tax: complain to the companies that charge you more, or where possible buy the version targeted at men – and then shout about it.

*Bloody Good Period accessed 26 January 2019

§ The tampon tax explained on Wikipedia. This guide from Woman & Home has some helpful background on the tampon tax

Women in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on Wikpedia

Pink Tax today: How much extra do women and girls pay for everyday essentials?​ Rift from July 2018