THE FEMALE TAX
The Social & economic price of menstruation
- Periods are still social taboo
Historically, all religions (except Sikhism) placed restrictions on menstruating women, who were considered unclean and impure. This is the origin of a social taboo that still exist all around the world.
- Blue Blood
TV commercials have always shown a blue fluid pouring with advertisers self policing to avoid shocking the public with blood…gasp!
- Artist Rupi Kaur posted a shot of herself taking a nap in period-stained pants. Instagram deleted the photo -twice
- If men had period…
“Menstruation will become an enviable, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.” Gloria Steinem
Being Female is (unjustly) expensive
- $120/year (on pads & tampons) + $20/year (on meds for period side effects) x 40 years (between puberty and menopause) =
- $5, 600 spent by a woman on her period in her entire lifetime.
- Did you know? The UK enforces a 5% tax on sanitary pads and tampons, considered as luxury items. Meanwhile, men’s disposable razors are not taxed
Menstruating Girls in the developing world pay a high social and sanitary pads
In the developing world, low access to pads, tampons and other feminine hygiene products have a direct impact on girls’ and women’s health, education and prospects.
- 10% of Girls in Africa skip school during their period and eventually drop out as a consequence (Unesco)
- 48% of girls in Iran believe their period to be a disease
- 30% of girls in Afghanistan skip school during their periods.
- 1/3 of the world has no improved sanitation at home. 50% of schools in developing countries have no toilets, in Nigeria, there is 1 for every 600 students.This can lead girls on their period to decide to skip school
- In Kenya, half of the girls living in slums have sex with older men in exchange for pads, which puts them at risk for HIV and other STDs.
- In India only 12% of women used pads in 2010, 70% could not afford them, 88% used old cloth, dried grass, ash, sand or newspapers instead, a practice potentially linked to higher rates of cervical cancer
- Even when periods can’t be linked to a drop attendance rates, such as in Nepal menstruation may still cause girls to drop out as it may be seen as a sign of sexual maturity or preparedness for marriage
- Eradicating the taboo:
Better sex education for young men and women can help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation.
- Ending the female tax:
Options such as menstrual cups or women underwear are still largely unknown by the public or regarded as unpractical, but are more budget- and environmental- friendly, and thus an interesting solution in both developed and developing countries