The Real Costs of the Pink Tax

Credit(s): Listen Money Matters

According to the United Nations, men’s average wages are higher than women’s in both rural and urban areas, with rural women working longer hours and having the added responsibility of domestic care. Still, in 2022, women face discrimination in all walks of life. Although we have fought and protested for years, major change is yet to come. From employment opportunities to basic human rights, women are constantly exploited.

One of these attacks on women is the pink tax.

What Is “The Pink Tax”?

Although not actually a tax, the pink tax is a term used to describe the extra amount that a woman pays for female-specific products (e.g. haircuts, shampoo, clothing).

According to a 2015 study based in New York City, women’s products cost 7% more than similar products marketed towards males (specifically: 13% more for personal care products, 8% more for adult clothing, and 8% more for senior care products).

Credit(s): Healthline

The pink tax affects them their entire life, starting from childhood toys to later menstrual products. This costs women roughly $2,135 per year. A woman in her 60s will cough up nearly $82,000 in fees that men do not have to pay. Making matters worse, there is no federal law that prevents companies from up-charging female clients for the same product or service.

One of the most controversial parts of the pink tax is the tampon tax, which charges for feminine hygiene products. Almost all U.S. states exempt non-luxury necessities like groceries and prescriptions, but all but ten charge tax on tampons and feminine pads — despite their necessity for most women. Not only does it affect women, but non-binary and trans people who menstruate are also harmed by the pink tax.

What Is Being Done?

In 1995, then-Assemblywoman Jackie Speier passed a bill that would prevent certain services from pricing based on gender (e.g. haircuts). On June 11, 2021, as a Congresswoman, Rep. Speier reintroduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act, which would work to address product pricing that is impacted by the pink tax. She cited that with women earning only 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, and women of color having an even larger gap, the pink tax was unfairly costing a lot of money for a woman in their lifetime.

Credit(s): Mark Lennihan via AP Photo

What Can I Do?

To avoid the pink tax, people should regularly check the male version of products to see if they are able to pay less. Be on the lookout for stores and companies that advertise themselves as “Pink Tax Free.” For example, Boxed has looked to reduce the prices of several of its female products in order to combat gender inequality. They also have a “Pink Tax Free” section on their website, which sells products at unisex prices. For more information, check out this list of companies that support the pink tax free movement.

As we look towards building a future where gender equality can truly exist, the U.S. can follow the example of other countries like Canada, which removed their goods and services tax on tampons in 2015.

References & Resources to Learn More:

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