The battle against the so-called “luxury tax” on menstrual products may have just gained a new set of allies. Eight brands have come together to fight what they deem an unfair, sexist policy – one that only serves to penalize women. These brands know that these taxes only make it more difficult and expensive for women to access essential, necessary hygiene products.
1. Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity: 8 Companies Answer the Call
It used to be a universal taboo: the mere mention of menstruation sparked feelings of shame. But in 2020, a movement for menstrual equity - defined as the right to a safe and hygienic period free of stigma – has exploded into the mainstream. Now, some of the world’s biggest companies are leading the charge to make menstrutation more accessible, safe, and comfortable for people around the world.
Take a look at eight of the biggest companies to take a stand for menstrual equity:
- Corporate behemoths like Microsoft, P&G, and Johnson & Johnson have paid to fund research and launch awareness campaigns, like the groundbreaking ‘Like a Girl’ campaign.
- HYDAWAY provides reusable water bottles that help people stay hydrated during their period and reduce their single-use waste.
- U by Kotex and Always manufacture period products made with sustainable materials and commit to funding initiatives to support menstrual hygiene.
- Thinx has spearheaded the conversation around period panties, offering an incredible selection of protective underwear designed to make periods easier.
- Modibodi creates leak-proof undies to keep your period flow in check
- SheCycle is a global network that provides reusable menstrual cups to women in need in developing countries.
- Femme International is an organization determined to tackle period poverty and ‘period shame’ with comprehensive menstrual health education programs.
- HelloFlo offers a subscription box service to make period care hassle-free and hand-deliver period products to girls in Nepal.
These are just a few of the initiatives being taken to make periods more equitable and less of a burden. Here’s to menstrual equity!
2. Menstrual Equity: Examining the Refreshing Brand Support
Today, many retailers are joining the movement to ensure menstrual equity by offering access to menstrual products and removing their price tags. Refreshingbrand is one such company that is openly supporting the advancement of menstrual health and contributing to relief for those in need.
Refreshingbrand recognizes how desperately menstrual products are needed – especially for those who are unable to afford them. That’s why they have made a commitment to remove price tags from all menstrual products and make them accessible to all. As part of this commitment, they are donating products to organizations that are providing relief to those who cannot afford these products.
Refreshingbrand is also actively advancing period-positive conversation by working with other companies to provide some menstrual education and encourage conversations around menstrual health. Specifically:
- Investments in period-positive education: Refreshingbrand supports organizations that promote menstrual education to reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation and combat period poverty.
- Incentives to reduce stigma: Refreshingbrand rewards those who help spread the conversation about menstrual equity by offering discounts and other incentives.
- Campaigns to support the movement: Refreshingbrand hosts campaigns that aim to support the advancement of menstrual health, as well as provide donations to organizations offering relief.
By providing support for those who are struggling to access menstrual products and sharing period-positive messaging, Refreshingbrand is doing its part to promote reproductive rights and ensure menstrual equity for all.
3. How the “Luxury Tax” on Menstrual Products Led to Widespread Protest
In 2020, the concept of a luxury tax on menstrual hygiene products, such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, sparked outrage and disbelief throughout Europe. This tax, also referred to as a ‘tampon tax’, labels menstrual products as ‘luxury’ items, with additional taxes being tacked onto each purchase. In response to this levy, women organized nationwide protests and created online petitions in order to put an end to the controversial policy.
Experts argued that since women had no choice but to use menstrual hygiene products, they should not be subject to the extra financial burden. Sex-based discrimination was also highlighted, as it appeared that the tax was punitive in nature, singling women out due to their biological needs. Protesters demanded an end to the tax, with some people taking the streets to march in solidarity. In addition, various celebrities and politicians spoke out against the policy, calling it an unjust and out-dated method of taxation.
Ultimately, the ‘tampon tax’ was abolished as a result of the widespread public outcry and the solidarity amongst those who wanted to make their voices heard. Women from all walks of life came together to push for a fairer taxation system and their efforts paid off.
4. End Period Poverty: A Call for Continued Support from Consumers and Brands
It is no secret that period poverty, the lack of access to period products due to financial constraints in a safe and secure manner, is a global issue, disproportionately affecting those living in low-income countries. Despite the growth of awareness and resources for those in need, many are still without their basic, hygienic needs. To this end, consumers and brands can help further the effort of ending period poverty.
- Consumers. Consumers can help bring an end to period poverty by buying period products from ethical brands that donate a portion of the sales towards providing period products to those in need. Additionally, patrons can shop ethical brands that provide access to period products for free.
- Brands. It is also essential for brands to commit to donating a portion of their profits, or to develop donation funds, towards providing period products to those in need. Brands can additionally focus on initiatives that foster the menstrual presentation of period products in inclusive ways, which can help reshape the narrative that traditionally shadows the conversation of periods.
By focusing on two these areas, consumers and brands alike can help those living in period poverty find the help and resources they need. With continued support, we can work together to eventually end period poverty!
The “luxury tax” on menstrual products comes at a special cost for those who access them the most. Perhaps, with more campaigns like these eight brands’, efforts to reduce this unjustifiable tax, women’s right to a basic need will become more accessible and laws will change. Once the stigma around menstruation is eliminated, more women will become empowered to stand together to create a just and honorable society.