Since the axe of the tampon tax in 2019, the Australian government has lost approximately $35 million a year in revenue.
And with COVID-19's continuing impact on the Australian economy, now is the perfect time for the government to reinstate the tax and invest in the future of Aussie women and girls.
Historically, tampons and pads were taxed as luxury goods and were not considered an area of healthcare. But in 2019, the Morrison government scrapped the 10 per cent tax on pads, tampons, and a selection of other feminine hygiene products.
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Upon first glance, the exemption appears to be a progressive and practical piece of legislation. But what seems to be a win for women's rights, is merely symbolic. The exemption does not address the harsh realities of period poverty in Australia.
Each month in Australia, up to 1 million people who menstruate struggle to access sanitary products due to financial constraints.
This issue, known as period poverty, prevents a woman from managing her periods hygienically and with dignity.
As a result, some women and girls resort to unfriendly alternatives such as toilet paper, newspaper, socks, and even old rags.
Such substitutes are becoming more common as COVID-19 continues to push people into poverty. Currently, 1 in 10 of those who menstruate worldwide cannot afford menstrual products, a figure steadily worsening amid the pandemic.
With more than 800 million people menstruating daily, a lack of access to menstrual products can disrupt everyday life. Most commonly, improper feminine hygiene can interrupt school attendance and performance, employment attainment and social participation.
Groups most susceptible to experiencing period poverty include adolescent girls and women from low to middle-income backgrounds, Indigenous Australians and those residing in rural or remote communities.