The & # 39; pink tax & # 39; abolish: there will be no equality of women without menstrual equity

As every woman will tell you, the & # 39; pink tax & # 39; for real. Just walk through your local drugstore.

Shampoo that is marketed for women (think pink, flowery designs) costs on average 48 percent more than that sporty navy blue packaging. And it is not only the care for personal hygiene: women's jeans are 10 percent more expensive and the costs for dry cleaners for women's shirts are on average $ 4.95 compared to $ 2.86 for men.

A new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms that products aimed at female consumers cost more than half the time than the man's equivalent.

The American Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has also released a report this weekEarn less, pay more: the status of the gender pay gap and the & # 39; pink tax & # 39; in 2018– following the GAO findings. It sensibly calls the tampon tax & # 39; on, the government allowance that exists in the 36 US states that do not necessarily classify menstrual products and therefore do not exempt sales tax.

Yes, yet another way the American economy is drying women at every turn.

The good news is that the struggle to keep up with the tampon load has a worldwide flood of support. Yesterday, the Malaysian government announced that it will lift the sales and service tax of up to ten percent on menstrual products. Earlier this summer, India did the same for its tax of 12 percent. Canada abolished the national goods and services tax on menstrual products in 2015. And in Kenya the fight was won over ten years ago: besides the fact that it was the first nation in the world that stopped lifting menstruation products in 2004, the East African nation ended in 2011 also an import duty on pads, costs for women and girls were further reduced.

Here in the United States, public support is large and clear two parties. Since 2016, legislation on tampon tax has been introduced in 24 states. Four have succeeded – Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and New York – with laws signed by Democratic and Republican governors. Two years ago, the American Medical Association, the largest national association of doctors, issued a statement calling on states to exempt menstrual products from sales tax as good medical and medical practice.

But the conversation about the economics of menstruation must go beyond the tampon load. For those who can not afford or use menstrual products at all, the consequences can be terrible. Almost one in five American children live in poverty, but tampons and sanitary napkins, like a classroom like pencils and paper, are rarely offered in the toilets. Those who are homeless can use discarded newspapers, socks, paper towels or plastic bags. Detained persons are often left to beg or negotiate with corrections for cushions, part of a humiliating and inhuman power imbalance.

Activists and policymakers have begun to address this plight in the name of menstrual equality – arguing that in order to have a fully equitable and participative society, our laws must ensure protocols for menstrual hygiene and products that are safe and secure. available to anyone who needs them.

In 2016, New York City became the first jurisdiction to pass three menstrual justice laws, the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in the world. The furthest sweep of the three requires the city to make tampons and blocks freely accessible to 300,000 public school students in grades 6 through 12. The second provides a budget for all shelters supervised by the Department of Homeless Services and the Ministry of Health and Spiritual Hygiene to provide free menstrual products to approximately 23,000 residents. And finally, another removes the cap on the number of pads given to women in custody of the Department of Correction, which previously amounted to about a dozen thin, non-absorbent pads per period.

Similar reforms are gaining momentum throughout the country. The provision of tampons and sanitary towels in public schools is now the law in California, Illinois and New York. Many have picked up the case for those detained: Colorado has mandated in its budget for tampons in state prisons from 2017 onwards; Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Virginia have passed laws that stipulate that prisons and local prisons provide free menstrual products; and Arizona does so through a correction department after the law comes to a standstill in 2018.

Even Capitol Hill takes a stand. Last summer, the Bureau of Prisons issued an annual guide for the free provision of tampons and sanitary towels in all federal correctional facilities. It may soon have more teeth: in May 2018, the US house adopted the prison reform legislation, the FIRST STEP Act, by US representative Doug Collins (R-GA), with a wide range of sponsors (ten Republicans and nine Democrats), which specifically includes a provision for menstrual access. The bill is expected to be adopted by the senate later this year.

And even more federal developments: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) convinced the Department of Homeland Security to allow FEMA-funded shelters to buy menstruation products with gifts – just like the other acceptable purchases of personal supplies & # 39; who already allowed it, including toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and underwear.

Most recently, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018, sponsored by the US Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), adopted in the house. It would allow menstrual products to be covered as a qualified expense by flexible spending and health savings accounts, with the restriction imposed by the current (wrong) classification of menstrual products from the IRS being withdrawn.

The Rep. Report Maloney rightly emphasizes that the treacherous pink tax indicates the need for national policies that would contribute to ensuring gender equality, including and in particular a national change of equal rights. States Maloney: "The ERA would mean that women no longer have to fight the pink tax product per product, or to fight the pay differentials between men and women per job or employer by the employer, and it would solve unmanageable problems that a fragmentary approach can not. . "

The battle for menstrual power falls square in this category. And it offers a smart step for future political discourse and debate around the ERA. Already Republican and Democratic legislators have shown that they agree that the economics of menstruation matters – and that good policies can help to ensure that the cost of menstruation is not an obstacle to obtaining an education or the full and complete participating productively in social life.

Ultimately, menstrual ability is about recognizing that when half of the population is so abandoned, the whole society suffers – an argument that is really central to the fight for gender equality.

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