why scrap period taxes?

Reducing the cost and increasing the affordability of menstrual products is one obvious reason to scrap period taxes. However, there are other reasons - e.g. tackling period stigma - that are just as important.

WHY IT’S TIME TO SCRAP PERIOD TAXES

Ending period stigma

Campaigns against unfair period taxes typically trigger broader conversations about societal attitudes towards menstruation. It will therefore also help to tackle the persisting stigma surrounding  menstruation. It is precisely because the issue of menstruation has been stigmatised and silenced for so long that unfair and discriminatory practices – including unfair period taxes – still exist today.

Campaign insight: We found that tax campaigns that also talk about the broader issues of period stigma, taboos and gender equality tend to be more successful overall, because they lead to a much wider conversation.

Menstrual products are basic necessities, not luxuries

Women and girls need menstrual products to be able to manage their periods safely, hygienically and with dignity. Surprisingly, menstrual products are often not considered basic necessities and thus are not subject to a reduced tax rate or exemption. They are often taxed at the same standard rate as more luxurious items.

Campaign insight: Campaigners successfully made the point that not categorising menstrual products as basic necessities is both unfair and absurd by comparing them to some of the more luxurious goods that do enjoy this preferential status. In Germany, campaigners used the examples of oil paintings, truffles and caviar. This made for great headlines in the media and helped to activate a lot more people for the cause.

Period taxes are discriminatory and perpetuate gender inequality

Menstruation is a physical function, not a choice. Period taxes are discriminatory because they effectively tax women and girls who have no choice but to buy menstrual products because they menstruate.

Campaigns to remove or reduce period taxes will inevitably touch on issues of discrimination within laws, public policies and decision-making processes and trigger broader conversations about gender equality.

Campaign insight: To be successful, campaigns on period taxes need the support of women and men. Hence it is extremely important to consciously involve men in the campaign and to position period taxes more broadly as an issue of justice and gender equality, rather than only a ‘women’s issue’!

Menstrual products should be affordable for everyone

Menstrual products should be affordable for every woman and girl, and reducing or scrapping period taxes can help to improve their affordability. If your main campaign goal is to improve affordability for consumers, it is critical that you understand the relevant tax system and the supply chain of menstrual products in detail.

Unfortunately, experience shows that the removal or reduction of period taxes does not automatically result in lower prices for consumers. Have a close look at your local tax system and assess which other actors along the supply chain (e.g. manufacturers, retailers, shippers, consumer authorities, relevant ministries) need to be on board to ensure that tax reductions are passed on to consumers. We provide more information in the Research Report.

Campaign insight: Make the topic of prices and taxes personal by sharing stories from women and girls who are not able to afford products, and use period cost calculators to show how small costs add up over a lifetime.

GLOBAL MAP OF PERIOD TAXES AND CAMPAIGNS

SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT PERIOD TAXES AND CAMPAIGNS WITH US

case studies

Explore our case studies from period tax campaigns around the world to learn about the dos and don’ts of campaigning against period taxes!

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.

case studies

Explore our case studies from period tax campaigns around the world to learn about the dos and don’ts of campaigning against period taxes!

Watch the SCRAP THE PERIOD TAX Video

Learn more about the factors that influence if a tax reduction will actually be passed on to consumers. You will also get some valuable tips to make your period tax campaign successful! Click the image on the left to start the video.

WANT TO START YOUR OWN PERIOD TAX CAMPAIGN?