While 2020 mainly brought us hardships and struggles, many hoped 2021 would be a better year for all, and we seem to be off on a better foot. As of the 1st January 2021, the so-called ‘Tampon Tax’ is being abolished in England. About bloody time.
Sanitary products have previously been sold with an additional 5% tax, as they were classed as allegedly being “luxury items”. This tax is seen by many to be extremely sexist and unnecessary, and feminist activists have been campaigning for this change for many years. 20 years ago, the tax was 17.% extra, which is obscene. This was dropped to 5% following campaigning from Labour MP Dawn Primarolo. It was alleged that EU rules meant the UK couldn’t drop the tax any lower than the 5%. However, the Republic of Ireland already abolished it, and is part of the EU, so that claim may not be all it seems.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak had been fighting to get the tax removed since March 2020, and has said he is “proud we are today delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential so it’s right that we do not charge VAT.” He continued to say, “We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women.”
However, many people are calling ‘hypocrosy’, as Sunak himself actually voted against removing the tax in 2015. So in all of this there is still a lot of questions surrounding the Tory Government’s real agenda.
Period poverty is still a very real on-going issue, and some of the statistics may (and arguably should) shock you.
- In the UK, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while 1 in 7 struggle to afford them
- Research by Plan International UK found that 49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their periods
- In a survey of more than 1000 girls, nearly half were embarrassed by their periods, many were afraid to ask for help because of the stigma and 68% said they felt less able to concentrate on education while menstruating
While the abolishment of the tampon tax is a move in the right direction towards equality and fairness to young people, there s still a lot of progress to be made. Condoms are freely accessible, yet sanitary products are still expensive. This just goes to show that the gender divide is still very prominent in current society, such as the ‘Pink Price’, products aimed at women being more expensive, like razors and clothes.
Below are some places to donate to help fight the ongoing battle against period poverty around the world. If you can donate, please do, and if you can’t, do your part to spread the word and help bring an end to period poverty.