Good news, ladies… that is if you happen to live in the progressive state of California and happen to buy feminine hygiene products. The first legislative session in California for the year 2016 saw a Democratic and a Republican Assemblywoman uniting to introduce a bill that will make menstrual hygiene products, such as tampons and sanitary napkins (pads), tax-free.
The two California Assemblywomen that made the historic move are Democrat Cristina Garcia and Republican Ling Ling Chang, who crossed party lines in the 2016 California Legislative session to bring the bill that would end the “tampon tax” that women worldwide have been trying to fight. The legislatures have ensured that women in California will be able to purchase menstrual hygiene products tax-free.
The women jointly brought the bipartisan measure into effect this week as a step towards gender equality, which they believe ending the ‘tampon tax’ will aid greatly. Cristina Garcia and Ling Ling Chan also argued that abolishing the currently imposed tax on tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products is a measure that could also close the wage gap that separates women from men. The Sacramanto Bee Garcia, who also serves as vice chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, gave voice to her strong beliefs about the good the bill can achieve in the lives of women in a press conference early on Tuesday.
“I feel this is an important issue of social justice for all women out there. Basically we are being taxed for being women. This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice. Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax. You can’t just ignore your period, it’s not like you can just ignore the constant flow.”
According to the revenue statements, in California alone, women spend over $20 million annually on taxes levied against tampons and pads. Should the bill pass, tampons and sanitary napkins would joining an existing list of health products that are already exempt in California’s Golden State. According to Newsweek the list of tax-free items includes walkers, medical identification tags, and prescription medication; oddly enough farm equipment and Viagra are already on California’s tax-free list.
Garcia’s belief that making tampons and pads would help to close the gender gap and also positively affect women of color is based on the findings of researchers such as the American Association of University Women. Research by the group discovered that for every dollar that a man makes, a woman only makes 79 cents in the working industry. The report also found that the wage gap is even larger for women of color and while African-Americans 63 cents for each dollar a man earns, Latinas only make 54 cents.
In a Facebook page posting Garcia continued to express her beliefs in the changes making the menstrual hygiene products tax-free can wrought.
“This is not insignificant to women, especially poor women on a tight budget who struggle to pay for basic necessities like a box of tampons or pads every month for their adult life. If we can’t make them free we should at least make them more affordable.”
Making tampons and pads tax-free in California is not a novel concept and five U.S. states – Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – have already eliminated the tax. All around the world activists are trying to get leaders to repeal, reduce or discard the tampon tax altogether with Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the United Kingdom all seeing such campaigns to recognize that tampons are not luxury items but a health necessity. Canada is set to remove its tax as of mid-2015.
[Photo Courtesy of Matka_Wariatka/ Shutterstock]