1 in 4 girls in the U.S. have missed class because they don’t have access to menstrual products.1
Why is it so important for girls to stay in school? Internationally, if girls receive seven full years of education, they will marry an average of four years later and have 2.2 fewer children.2 If they attend just one additional year of secondary school, their lifetime wages could increase by up to twenty-five percent, consequently raising their countries’ GDPs by billions of dollars.3 If India enrolled just one percent more girls in school, its GDP would rise by 5.5 billion dollars.4 It’s simple: educating women and girls has a concrete economic and social impact on individuals, communities, and nations.
Affordable sanitary products are not a luxury and need to be treated as what they are - a necessity.
Menstrual inequity is an issue that is both global and local. According to the National Women’s Law Center, nearly 1 in 8 American women lived in poverty in 2018, and nearly 1 in 3 women of childbearing age were economically insecure (lived below 200 percent of the federal poverty line).5 Women of color are hit hardest by poverty and economic insecurity.6
Menstrual products are currently taxed in 30 states, while other basic necessities like groceries and medical supplies are not.7 In some states, condoms and Viagra are not taxed whereas pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and other necessary hygiene products are.8 “On average, people who menstruate spend an estimated $150 million a year just on the sales tax for these items.”9
Tampons, pads, and other menstrual hygiene products are not accessible to economically insecure menstruators via food stamps, health insurance, or Medicaid coverage.10 The tax on menstrual health products, or “tampon tax,” targets Americans who menstruate and amounts to a financial barrier for menstruators who are unhoused, incarcerated, or simply struggling to make ends meet.
The Good News: Between 2016 and 2018, 5 states eliminated the tax on period products. In 2019, 22 more states introduced similar legislation.11 As of 2020, 20 states are tax free!12 Also, based on the CARES Act of 2020, menstrual products are now covered by HSAs (health savings accounts) and FSAs (flexible spending accounts).13