“Female Hygiene is not a luxury” Image source: Pixabay, Creative Commons (CC)

This morning, I woke up to a bad cold, stomach cramps and rainy weather outside, so what could be more tempting than to grab a cup of tea and crawl back under the covers to get some major news updates on my phone? It took me roughly five minutes and half way into my tea to find the first article that got my blood boiling. In a nutshell, this article from a major German paper tells the story of two German female members of parliament who launched a campaign to reduce VAT on female hygiene products from currently 19% – which are applied to luxury goods such as dining out and cars – to 7%, as applied to daily goods and groceries. Interestingly enough, works of art or caviar or flowers are also taxed with 7%, making them everyday goods instead of luxury items. The article then goes on to interview male politicians on this topic. And they see no need to reduce the tax on female hygiene products. So am I experiencing a luxury treatment once a month?

Only an hour after I read that article, I moved on to editing the current edition of Girl News International. And there it was, another news headline, informing me that Kenya is now supplying free sanitary pads in schools to keep girls from staying home when on their period. I sat down to do some research on this topic, and found that Scotland is already giving away free sanitary items to women on low incomes. Studies show that girls and women spend as much as €15,000 or US$17,500 on female hygiene throughout their lives. Recently, several countries including Canada and India have made sanitary items completely tax free, while some European countries lowered taxes below 10%. But in the majority of places, tampons, pads and pain killers are still taxed as luxury goods, as high as 27% in Hungary. Given that women are still in a position of low income and therefore lower retirement benefits, treating periods as luxury is more than mockery.

If I personally were to put the money in a savings account that I spend on pain killers, tampons, chocolate and other stuff that gets me through those five rough days without completely losing it, I’d probably have a nice sum once I’m done with my period. And I could use that to make up for the lower wages and other unfair taxes—but that’s for a totally different commentary. If there is already a movement to reduce taxes on sanitary items where you live, please support it. And if there’s none: how about sparking the flame? We can do this!

-Kristina Kraemer
Junior Editor
Girl News International

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