It’s Not Just the Tampon Tax: Why Periods Are Political

The average woman has her period for 2,535 days of her life. That’s nearly seven years’ time of making sure you have a pad or tampon, finding a makeshift solution if you don’t, and managing pain and discomfort.

At any given moment, 800 million people around the world are on their periods, and many of them cannot afford period products. In the United States, 1 in 5 teenagers have struggled to afford period products, and 1 in 4 have missed class because they did not have access to period products.

What they are facing is period poverty, or limited access to menstrual products due to a lack of income and resources.

Menstruation is a natural part of life for everyone with a vagina, and with that so is purchasing tampons, pads and other hygiene products to manage it. It’s inevitable, not a choice and something that half of the world’s population must deal with. Yet in many states, menstrual products are still considered a “luxury” item and not a necessity, allowing them to add additional sales tax to them. Some people may think this is insignificant, but according to a study done by The Huffington Post the average woman will spend $2,216 on feminine hygiene products in her lifetime. Depending on the individual’s state that’s somewhere between $100- $250 dollars spent on menstrual product taxes alone. Multiply that by each menstruating woman in each state with a tax and you can see how quickly this adds up.

These added costs are even worse for low-income, incarcerated or homeless women who often can’t afford to purchase menstrual products. This isn’t only harmful to these women’s health and hygiene but also their dignity. Unfortunately, the majority of lawmakers are non-menstruating men and are unable to understand the necessity of feminine care. Recently, there has been more discussion and advocacy to fight to end this unnecessary tax and prove that it’s discriminatory against women who menstruate.

Access to menstrual products should be seen as the human right that it is, not a luxury.

Here are a few ways that you can take action against period poverty and the tampon tax:

  • See if your state has a tampon tax.
  • Sign the pledge on taxfreeperiod.com to show your support for removing the tampon tax.
  • Donate to nonprofit organizations that help fight period poverty and are committed to taking down the tampon tax, like #HappyPeriod & PERIOD.
  • Get involved with local projects to fight menstrual inequity in your community.
  • Donate unused period products to local homeless and domestic violence shelters.
  • Talk about periods, and break the stigma around menstruation.

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