The crusade to make pads and tampons cheaper

The reduction of VAT on menstruation products (pads, tampons or cups) that the Government has announced will have a more symbolic impact than significant monetary savings, economists and women's organizations agree.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
02 October 2022 Sunday 15:44
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The crusade to make pads and tampons cheaper

The reduction of VAT on menstruation products (pads, tampons or cups) that the Government has announced will have a more symbolic impact than significant monetary savings, economists and women's organizations agree. Now, the step taken is not trivial, they add in a row. By entering the tax group of basic necessities, the door is opened to the gratuity of these items for women with fewer resources, the ultimate objective of the movement to reduce the price of the period.

It is complex to calculate the exact savings of reducing the VAT on these items from the current 10% to the 4% promised by the Executive, the super-reduced tax rate that includes bread, milk or vegetables, books or medicines. The annual cost depends on the characteristics and brand of the product, although a study by the OCU puts the cost of menstrual hygiene items at 59 euros per year. With the tax reduction, the cost would reach 55.46 euros per year, 3.54 euros less.

"For a person with economic difficulties, the savings are small," says Ana Enrich, from the organization Period Spain. This association works to place menstrual poverty in the public debate. One of its objectives is to make feminine hygiene products cheaper and guarantee access to women without resources. “We celebrate the Government's initiative and we hope to see how it materializes; it is one more step along the way and there is still work to be done”, adds Enrich.

Studies carried out by Period Spain calculate that 20% of women have problems paying for suitable products for their menstruation, based on the female poverty risk rate (21.2% in 2021, indicates the INE). The Ministry of Equality wields that 39.9% of women in Spain cannot afford a menstrual product of their choice for economic reasons, according to the Jordi Gol Gurina University Institute for Research in Primary Care.

Once the Executive includes the tax reduction in the General Budgets, it remains to be seen how it is transferred to distribution. That is, if supermarkets and pharmacies lower the final sale price. And here comes one of the historic economic dilemmas: are linear tax cuts progressive?

"It is not a measure that guarantees that menstruation products are more affordable," says Sara Smith, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol who has analyzed the effect of the abolition of VAT on pads and tampons in the United Kingdom. The British Government abolished this tax last year following in the footsteps of other countries, such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, India or Colombia. The conclusion of her study throws chiaroscuro: the final sale price has hardly changed.

Organizations such as Period Spain put the Scottish model on the horizon, where pads and tampons are dispensed free of charge in public centers. “This is what we are asking for Spain”, underlines Enrich.

In short, a change of consideration regarding the needs of women and their impact on private spending. In the essay The Moon, Symbol of Transformation (Atalanta, 2018) the writer Jules Cashford recalls that menstruation was revered in pre-Christian societies and was one of the first ways of measuring time, along with lunar cycles. Hundreds of years later, women's associations demand that, at a minimum, hygiene items be considered an essential good: "having a period is not a luxury."

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