Updated: Sep 17
Access to Menstrual Products:
Many people find women's health awkward and uncomfortable to talk about, resulting in a striking number of uneducated adults around the world. With the lack of education on the subject comes an ease for exploitation. While items such as groceries and medicine are sold free of sales tax under the assumption that they are necessities, products such as tampons and pads are susceptible to tax as they are labeled “luxuries”. This pricing gap, commonly referred to as the pink tax, however, does not only apply to menstrual products. For years branding companies have used pink and purple packaging to market certain products as ones for women while products with more “masculine” colors are labeled as ones for men. Aside from the drastically outdated stereotypes that this branding induces, women are additionally cheated by raised prices on the items targeted towards them. Although the price gap may seem small at first, studies have shown that with just 40 years of buying pink taxed items, Women can lose up to $406,280.
To further heighten the significance of the pink tax is its global spread. As different countries and international brands have adopted the pink tax, the severity of the pricing differences has skyrocketed. Hungary, being the primary proponent, has tax rates up to 27%. Accordingly, Hungarian citizens that require menstrual products are also among the most susceptible to period poverty. Countries following close behind include Sweden, with a tax rate of 25%, and Mexico, with a tax rate of 16%.
Thankfully, other countries have pushed back from the trend, making their feminine hygiene products completely tax-free. Kenya, Canada, India, Colombia, Australia, Germany, and Rwanda have all set an example for other countries by exempting customers from paying unnecessary taxes. Other than government action, these countries have also inspired passionate activists to start global non-profit organizations that provide people in need with free menstrual products. These organizations include but are not limited to, PERIOD, Freedom4Girls, Dignity Period, and Days for Girls (DfG).
In addition to justice for gender based pricing, many countries have been fighting for their deserved abortion rights. In developing countries especially, abortion is more often illegal or strictly regulated than not. The National Library of Medicine estimates that approximately only one third of third world countries have liberalized or even legalized access to safe and professional abortion procedures.
The consequences of these health care limitations can be detrimental. Oftentimes, pregnant patients request abortions for the sake of their own lives and health. When an individual's request is denied and they are forced to go through with childbirth, they are put at risk of death, hemorrhaging, and other physical damage to their body. Similar effects can result from unsafe abortion methods that many individuals resort to as their last option. Even after the estimated 100 to 200,000 deaths from unprofessional clandestine abortions each year, most governments refuse to legalize abortion. Previously, the U.S. has been globally idolized for their progressively liberal legislature regarding abortions, but since the overturning of Roe V. Wade, America has lost its place on the pedestal.
So who should we look to for insight? Recent political and social movements in South America are placing Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico at the front lines of the fight for reproductive healthcare For the past three years, Latin American women have been working admirably hard for their rights to safe and legal abortions. Their movement, known as the Green Wave, helped legalize abortion in some of the most populous South American countries. Currently, pro choice countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, and Uruguay make up the majority of South America, while other countries lie on the outskirts. Furthermore, the minority of abortion criminalizing countries are overrun with Latin American women who have joined and spread the Green Movement in hopes of legalizing abortion for themselves.
Abortion is a fundamental human right. Politicians may not be ready to accept the procedure, but civilians are. No longer can abortion stay taboo and no longer will we stay silent. With South America as evidence, change is possible and change is near.
For information on abortion pill access and availability, visit: https://www.plancpills.org/.
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