What’s the cost of being a Female Consumer in 2020?

The pink tax is one that only about half of the population is subject to. And they probably aren’t even aware of it. Are you paying the pink tax?

If you aren’t sure if you’re paying the pink tax, answer a few questions. Are you a woman? Do you buy women’s products like feminine hygiene items, women’s clothing, women’s razors, women’s body wash? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, then you are indeed paying the pink tax.

Pink Tax. Why does it cost more to be a Women?

The gender pay gap is a well-known form of sex discrimination in employment. Unfortunately, the pay isn’t the only area where women are given short shrift. Research has found that women often face price discrimination and end up paying more for female-specific products – a “pink tax”.

Yes, yet another manifestation of the economic disparity created between men and women because of the male-centric structure of society is the “pink tax”. ‘Pink Tax’, as the name suggests has something to do with women as from Delhi Metro Magenta Line’s women compartment to instilling the idea of ‘pink is feminine’ into little girls’ minds – it's an endless loop of fortifying the generalizations about the colour and its connection to sex. The term simply refers to gender-based price discrimination wherein women every now and again have to pay more than the men for the same products and services, which can only be differentiated through the colour of the product and its packaging.

This so-to-speak tax that causes the price difference between the male-oriented products and its female-targeted product counterpart is very much evident in all the categories of products and services, right from toys for toddlers to senior health care products.

A study showed that while a razor for men costs Rs. 180, it’s pink- i.e. women’s version- costs Rs. 250, a shocking difference of Rs. 70 for a change in the colour of the product. Similarly, basic t-shirt costs men Rs. 305 while the same one costs women Rs. 359 and dry-cleaning services for the same shirts may cost women as much as 92% more than men. The study of New York City Department of Consumer Affairs examined the expenses of many items utilized from support to stick and inferred that there exists a general 7% difference between the expenses, everything being equal, and that ladies purchasers addressed greater expenses in 30 out of its 35 item classes. The pink expense costs about $2,135 on normal to a lady consistently. The official site of AxThePinkTax gauges that by the age of 35, a lady pays an astounding all out of around $47,000 under the clothing of this “gender tax”. This burden on women’s pocket comes in addition to the gender pay gap. Starting in 2018, the pay gap is as wide as 19% in India and as the pink duty, it keeps on enduring even in well-developed nations, for example, USA. Subsequently, with lesser pay and more expenditure, women are doubly burdened exclusively because of their sex.

The ‘Tampon Tax’

The pink tax isn’t the sole upcharge that affects women. There’s also the “tampon tax,” which refers to the excise tax applied to feminine hygiene items like pads, liners, tampons, and cups.

The tampon tax is commonly incorrectly named as a luxury tax. Rather, it’s a standard excise tax applied to any or all goods — but since only people that menstruate use feminine hygiene products, the tax disproportionately affects us. Just like the upcharge on personal care items geared for women, the small amounts of sales tax we shell out every month to manage periods adds up over a lifetime, and this adversely affects women from low-income households.

“This issue has real resonance for people,” Weiss-Wolf tells Healthline. “I think partly because the experience of menstruation is so universal for anybody who’s experienced it, as is the understanding that being able to manage it is so essential to one’s ability to participate fully in daily life and have a dignified existence.”

Both men and women of all political stripes understand that the “economics of menstruation,” as Weiss-Wolf calls it, is involuntary. Her group Period Equity took this issue nationwide in 2015 by partnering with Cosmopolitan magazine on a Change.org petition to “axe the tampon tax.” But sales tax must be addressed by advocates state by state.

Pink Tax Awareness in India

There is barely any awareness about this price discrepancy in developed and developing countries alike. A survey uncovered that as many as 67% of adults in India had never at any point even heard of the term pink tax.

The first time that this gendered pricing was brought to the public eye in India was through the movement against the 12-14% GST levied on the tabooed sanitary napkins and other women’s hygiene products. While contraceptives remain tax-free and are considered essential goods, a “tampon tax” was imposed on women’s sanitary products as they were considered a luxury instead of a necessity. This sparked widespread protests on social media, especially Twitter, under the campaign name #LahuKaLagaan, meaning “tax on blood”. Online petitions against it too received more than 4,00,000 signatures including those from activists, actors, politicians and comedians and eventually led the government to revoke this “tampon tax” in 2018. Although the “tampon tax” movement in India helped spread some awareness about it, pink tax still majorly remains hidden in the marketplace and is accepted as an unquestioning norm of society. Many social media movements around the world- such as #GenderPricing and #AxThePinkTax– too have brought some attention to it but their reach is still very minimal

Justifications by Manufactures and Marketers

Many marketers and firms attribute the hiked prices of women targeted products to product differentiation and greater packaging costs. To differentiate a product from others and to focus on specific market segments, manufacturers often resort to creating the packaging more aesthetic, altering colour schemes of a product and even highlighting the USPs in varied forms. this could increase the price of production because of lack of economies in scales in producing those specific products. as an example, a manufacturer may produce way more generic blue and black cycle helmets than pink cycle helmets, which could relatively increase the price of production of every pink helmet. Thus, while the state of California passed the Gender Tax Repeal Act in 1995 to ban businesses from discriminating prices of comparable services against an individual thanks to their gender, it can't be effectively utilized by consumers because the act works more as a tokenistic change since manufacturers often cite these reasons for his or her price discrimination. Moreover, a bill banning this discrimination on goods in California was even withdrawn in 2016 because of industrial lobbying and pressure from businesses, preventing any action against these justifications.

Further, whether or not the standard of the merchandise available for both the sexes remains identical, some marketers take advantage of their notion that girls are willing to spend more on their appearance and grooming. Many companies arrogate grave sums of cash from women for the foremost basic products because of their brand being present on the merchandise, which further feeds into this narrative of social value imposed around women. The insecurities that ladies carry as a result of the judgment they face on their looks and lifestyle reinforces this gendered pricing and allows companies to arrogate large sums of cash from women who hope to match the unattainable societal standards using the products of those companies. They often claim that ladies are less sensitive to higher prices and since they're willing to pay a greater sum for a product or service, marketers savours price discrimination against women. Companies argue that it's no different than discriminating the costs of flights on different dates of purchase. However, that discrimination is neither targeted towards a particular class of people nor does it contribute to a grander scheme of their systemic oppression. irrespective of all the justifications, the key ramification of this gendered pricing is that it costs a girl even over before to fulfil the expectations of her gender as compared to those of a person.


Creating more awareness among consumers is thus paramount during this battle against the pink tax. Being privy to the deeply problematic narratives that fuel and justify the pink tax is that the opening move towards questioning it and subsequently taking action against it. it's crucial then, to form more conversation about this and to voice one’s opinions to their peer groups and on social media platforms. Further, one can consciously favor to boycott the products of companies that do charge this pink tax by either switching to their similar generic or male oriented products, or by switching to a completely different brand that refrains from charging the tax.

It is equally as important for consumers to understand the efforts of companies that are actively trying to interrupt this norm. Companies are guaranteed to take cognizance of this awareness and alter in consumer preferences which might affect their marketing strategy and pricing policy. Burger King, as an example, is already publicly campaigning against the pink tax. Billie, a subscription razor company, in its fight against the gender tax, offers a referral discount that it calls ‘The Pink Tax Rebate’. this can be the way forward for companies- to actively join the fight against patriarchy and profit through becoming pioneers of change rather than remaining exploiters.

In order to cause change during this societal habit of oppressing women financially, it's paramount that we break the subconscious toxic societal notions of women being gullible, sensitive and submissive to all or any of the illogical norms. The continued existence of a large lifetime gender pays gap and substantial pink tax point to the need for both policies and legislation that would help establish gender equality. Additionally, more research is needed – especially comprehensive studies that only the government can afford. These findings also reinforce the importance of consumer engagement and public information about gender pricing differences. Public awareness of these inequities is an extremely powerful force that can bring about change not only when it comes to pricing but also public policy. The strongest measure against the pink tax would be the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would prevent legal discrimination against women in all areas and provide a platform for women to take action when confronted by discrimination.

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