United States women combined to spend $3 billion dollars every year on menstrual products, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Why is this acceptable?
Men are not spending that much annually. A study done by U by Kotex in 2021 found that two in five people are affected by period poverty. When choosing between food or pads, which would you choose? The answer is obvious, food.
That means women must miss work, school, or come up with makeshift menstrual products. Makeshift menstrual products like rags or paper towels increase chances of toxic shock syndrome and various vaginal infections. A whopping 67% of teenage students miss school due to lack of period supplies, while 38% of menstruating students often or sometimes cannot do the best on their schoolwork due to a lack of period products.
This data comes from a study done in 2021 by Statista. After looking at these statistics and studies, I especially wonder; why are these products not free?
If health risks are high and absences are increasing due to lack of products, why is no one doing anything about it? A natural function of the female body should not be something that companies are making money off of. There’s even sales tax on these products – erectile dysfunction pills do not even have a sales tax.
Typical that the government would advocate for that but not for all of the women that have to pay sales tax each month or pay in general for something they can not go without. Some may think you could just use a menstrual cup instead of tampons and pads and reduce the cost, but cups are hard to insert and remove, they do not fit everyone the same, and can be less convenient because of the cleaning process.
The first phase to solve this issue would be to remove the sales tax on the products, which is starting to happen, as 20 U.S. states have already removed the sales tax on menstrual products. In case you were wondering, Kansas does still have a sales tax on these products.
The next phase would be that the government could start providing free products at schools and places of work. I think it would be very doable if schools provided packages of pads and tampons every month for menstruating students. At most, which would be the best case scenario, all period products should be free to all menstruating citizens.
Scotland has already implemented this idea. Since 2018, Scotland has been providing free products to all public places and low income citizens, according to the Scottish government.
I really think that the 166 million females in our country should not be paying for menstrual products each month. We need to do something about this. It may take time but every step counts and that’s why we need to start working towards it now.
Cassidy Peterson is a Haven freshman studying Pharmacy Pre-Professional.