It's Time to End the Tampon Injustice

I’ve accumulated a pretty impressive pile of free stuff so far this year… most of it is junk, scattered in with a lot of random pamphlets, a couple t-shirts, some tote bags, even condoms. Something I have definitely never had handed out to me for free, though, is a tampon or pad.

In fact, I don’t think I know any other fellow female who has ever gotten a free tampon or pad. And yet, they truly are a monthly necessity for half of the world population. Not only are these necessary feminine hygiene products costly, but they also have a steep tax attached to them. Recently, this so-called “period-tax” has made a lot of headlines in the news, and will surely continue making more. Just a month ago, here in Utah, there was a proposed sales-tax break on feminine hygiene product. The House Committee turned down by an 8-3 margin.

A tax on tampons does sounds like a pretty silly topic at first, I’ll admit. However, it’s an important one that both men and women should think about. It’s estimated that women will spend close to $2,000 on just the tax on feminine hygiene products throughout their lifetime. Not only is this excessive and unfair, but the tax that tampons are under is known as a “luxury” tax. And I think that if you ask any woman about their period, they’ll probably tell you it’s about as luxurious as gas-station sushi. So basically not luxurious at all.

But seriously, overly priced and overly taxed pads and tampons are no joke, and the fact that this is still in issue is proof that we still have a lot of work to do to combat the sexism in our society. Across the globe, the beginning of “womanhood” marked by having a menstrual cycle is not something that is celebrated, but is still shameful and hidden and a burden to many women in third world countries. One study has shown that 73% of female workers in a factory in Bangladesh are forced to miss an average of six paid days every month on account of having their period. And, United Nations Children's Emergency Fund is a United Nations (UNICEF) has estimated that about 10% of African girls don’t attend school during their period. Not only does not having access to feminine hygiene products have these educational and economic repercussions, but it also increases the risk of infection. The United States is not exempt from having these kinds of issues, as well; food stamps don’t cover the cost of tampons or pads, and most women in prison also don’t have access to these products because they’re so expensive.

This isn’t just a 'vagina' problem. This is a human dignity problem, and both men and women can and should stand up for the right to free feminine hygiene products. Let’s all work together to make a more just world; one in which the quarter machine in the ladies’ bathroom is actually stocked with tampons, and those tampons don’t even cost us a quarter.

Links to all the sources used in this article: