tips for Campaigners

Whether you are a small group of individuals or a coalition of organisations, if you are about to get started or already have made some headway with your campaign, this website offers a wealth of data on period taxes, learnings from other campaigns and other resources to help you achieve your campaign goals.

For in-depth guidance on how to plan and implement a campaign on period taxes, please read our Advocacy Guide.

Key tips for a period tax campaign

#1

Do your research. Tax systems are often incredibly complex and difficult to understand. However, to effectively campaign on the issue, you first need an in-depth understanding of the taxes that apply to menstrual products and how they can be influenced within your specific tax system. We strongly advise that you consult with a tax expert to get a solid understanding of the issues at hand.

#2

Identify campaign goals and develop a campaign plan. Do you want to trigger a broader societal conversation about menstruation or are you only interested in reducing retail prices for menstrual products? Identify your key campaign goals and design your campaign plan accordingly.

#3

Act together. Build broad, diverse coalitions. The more organisations and individuals that add their voices to the campaign, the more credible, visible and powerful it will be. Engage influential people who are engaged in the topic to amplify the campaign. Make sure you include male champions.

#4

Communicate on all channels. Engage traditional and social media to increase awareness for your campaign. Start the conversation on social media by creating free campaign materials for your influencers to share. Many campaigns start with a petition to create initial momentum.

#5

Prepare for the long haul. While some campaigns have managed to get period taxes reduced or removed in a matter of months, you should be prepared for a multi-year process. Additional action may also be needed to ensure that a tax reduction results in reduced retail prices.
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GLOBAL MAP OF PERIOD TAX CAMPAIGNS

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campaign examples and case studies

Learn from past and present period tax campaigns from around the world!

Case Study

BANGLADESH, KENYA, NIGERIA AND SOUTH AFRICA

Advocating for Affordability. The story of menstrual hygiene product tax advocacy in four countries (Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, Soth Africa). By Susan Fox, Global Health Visions

Case Study

rwanda

In November 2019, the government of Rwanda announced the removal of taxes for menstrual products, which previously had been taxed at 18%. Sanitary pads were added to a list of VAT exempt goods in a bid to ease their affordability.
Learn more about the campaign to #FreeThePeriod in our interview with key advocate Isabella Akaliza.

Case Study

tanzania

The Tanzanian government scrapped VAT on sanitary pads in July 2018, but reinstated the tax in June 2019 after it had become clear that the cost reduction didn’t pass through to consumers. There’s a lot to be learned from this campaign. Check out our conversation with Halima Lila from Hope Centre Tanzania and Priya Sippy from WaterAid Tanzania.

Campaign Example

Australia

Following years of sustained public campaigning, the Australian government finally agreed to remove the 10% goods and services tax (GST) on menstrual products starting January 2019.

Campaign Example

India

In July 2018, the Indian government removed 12% goods and services tax (GST) from sanitary pads, making them tax exempt. The Indian government previously argued that a tax exemption would not necessarily lead to a reduction of retail prices of sanitary pads, but it eventually gave in to mounting public pressure.

Campaign Example

Switzerland

While items like tap water, cat litter and flowers are taxed at a reduced VAT rate of 2.5% in Switzerland, menstrual products are subject to the standard VAT rate of 7.7%. Swiss campaigning group Campax launched a petition on Women’s Day in May 2019 to call for fairer taxation. They handed over 11,000 signatures to the government in June 2019.  The decision-making process is currently ongoing and there is not yet a final result.

Campaign Example

The tampon book

In Germany, books are subject to a reduced VAT rate of 7% applied to essential goods. Menstrual products, however, used to be taxed at the standard VAT rate of 19%. To raise awareness of the unfair taxation, the Female Company packaged their tampons inside a little Tampon Book, which they sold at 7% VAT. The idea received significant media attention and contributed to the wider campaign that resulted in the reduction of VAT on all period products in January 2020.

campaign examples and case studies

Learn from past and present period tax campaigns from around the world!

top 10 campaign tips: Watch the Video

In this video, we share our top 10 campaigning tips. It’s all about a bloody good strategy! Click the image on the left to start the video.

How to address counter arguments

When you campaign for change it is normal to experience some resistance. Here is a list of counter arguments that are commonly brought up against campaigns for tax removal or reduction and how to respond to them.

Period products are inexpensive and taxes are already low, why scrap them?

When considering individual products, taxes account for a small fraction of the price. But counted over a year or over a woman's lifetime, it adds up to a significant sum of money, especially for poorer women and girls. In addition to the financial aspect, the tax is a manifestation of gender inequality and discrimination against women and girls.

Campaign tip: Draw attention to the fact that period taxes are unfair and gender discriminatory, no matter how high or low they are.

Lowering taxes will not lower product prices.

Yes, in many countries the removal or reduction of period taxes alone does not necessarily lead to lower product prices. But the fact that it requires additional action doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Ideally, the government and the public will hold producers and retailers accountable and pressure them to pass through tax reduction to consumers. In addition, lower product prices are just one positive effect of tax reduction, alongside triggering broader conversations about gender equality and tackling persisting stigma surrounding menstruation.

Campaign tip: As part of the campaign, get suppliers and retailers to publicly commit to passing the tax reduction through to consumers. If they do, this will help you increase pressure on political decision makers and enable you to hold suppliers and retailers to account. Consider campaigning for products to be zero rated instead of tax exempt if this is possible within your country’s tax system. Read more about this in the Research Report.

Poor people  won’t be able to afford products even if they become cheaper.

Very poor people may still not be able to afford menstrual products even if a tax reduction or removal is passed on to consumers. To ensure access for all, further measures may be required that can also be complementary to a tax change.

Campaign tip: If the campaign aims to address period poverty, consider looking at other interventions and policy measures to improve access and affordability, such as free menstrual products in schools or distribution schemes for low-income households and homeless people.

Why repeal taxes on menstrual products when other basic items such as condoms or shaving razors are taxed, too?

Taxes on menstrual products are unfair and gender-discriminatory because these products are basic necessities. Yes, there are other products that should be considered basic necessities and should be tax exempt too. Among them are items used by males. But that is another conversation which shouldn’t derail governments from taking action on period taxes now.

Campaign tip: Be open but insist that it is time to scrap period taxes, even if there are other products that require tax revisions. That is another conversation.

Why do you only refer to women and girls? Menstruation affects people of other genders, too.

Absolutely. We recognise that not all women menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are women. We use the term 'women and girls' to refer to all people who menstruate.

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