Pink Tax: the history of a luxury color

Women face discrimination in the retail world whenever they purchase products in the realm of self-care and well-being. This Pink Tax is the price increase found on products intended for women. Razors, deodorant, and body wash are used by both men and women, but products wrapped in packaging marketed toward women tend to have a higher price.

In France, Equal Opportunities Minister Pascale Boistard supported the Georgette Sand organization and their Woman Tax page and condemned Monoprix for selling a pink pack of five razors for 1.80 euros and a blue one of ten razors for 1.72 euros.

In Italy, the Pink Tax manifests in what is known as the Tampon Tax. The Tampon Tax is the application of the VAT rate usually reserved for high-end goods (22%) on external and internal sanitary pads, menstrual cups, and sponges. In acknowledgement of this issue, many Italian legislators have attempted to lower the VAT rate, calling these sanitary products essential for women. Though most attempts have failed, an amendment signed by Women Intergroup for the Budget session in 2019 led to the lowering of the VAT to 5% starting from January 1, 2020, on compostable and washable hygiene products.

However, this has had little effect on lowering the cost for consumers. Eco-sustainable absorbents have a higher unit cost than the classic product, so the tax exemption does not help the consumer. While absorbent manufacturing companies like Fater have built recycling plants for hygiene products, the reality is that most sanitary pads cannot be recycled unless they are fully cleaned of blood and collected separately.

Therefore, many organizations invested in the issue have launched their own awareness campaigns. The German-based Female Company is one organization working to eliminate taboos surrounding female healthcare products. They have published a book against tax discrimination, The Tampon Book, which sells sanitary pads in the book at a lower VAT than if they were sold separately from the book.

Though these campaigns have increased awareness over the Pink Tax, real change must be made through legislative means. Though many proposals have been made by political figures, few have managed to be approved.

Public decision-makers cannot rely on the public to create change for consumers; it is their job to ensure their female constituents face equal prices compared to their male counterparts in retail stores.