Menstruation is Women’s Health, Women’s Right’s, Biological to our Bodies.
I’m Jamie from Denver Colorado and I started That’s My Period as a petition to end sales tax on feminine hygiene products here in Colorado. I believe menstruation is women's health and that women should have the right to access menstrual care products without compromising any other financial responsibilities. The lack of menstrual products puts women's health at risk and I want to empower women to stand up for their periods and to know there are resources if they can’t afford menstrual care products.
Living in Denver, I witness a lot of poverty in the city and it always bothered me because I didn’t know that I could ever do anything to actually help. One day, I caught myself repeatedly saying women shouldn’t have to pay for tampons, it's a gender-biased tax and it's unfair, periods are natural to our bodies. That day, I knew I wanted to help women in need by providing basic living essentials like pads and tampons.
When I started That’s My Period, I started this idea alone, but I am so thankful for the other women who have reached out to me to help this cause. I am naturally an introvert so my circle of girlfriends has always been small, but having this online community has really helped me feel more empowered and to believe in myself, that I could really help other people.
That’s My Period. (TMP.) is now more than a petition. It’s an online community that is growing and is actively looking for ways to tackle period poverty and homelessness.
For women’s month, through our community, we completed our first project to give back and we were able to gather over 100 women's underwear to donate to women in need. I am grateful for the action we’re taking together to help other women who are experiencing poverty and I am thankful to be part of something that can help improve the lives of others.
The petition “Don’t Tax My Period, That’s My Period.” started on January 31st. 2019. You can view the petition and comments from other supporters here: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/dont-tax-my-period-thats
"Taxing menstrual products is a worldwide issue, it’s a risk to women’s health."
To find out more visit thatsmyperiod.org and check out their instagram @thatsmyperiod
What is the tampon tax and when will it finally be scrapped IN THE UK?
Put simply, the ‘Tampon Tax' is all the revenue earned from the VAT charge applied to the sale of sanitary products.
The standard VAT rate is currently 20%, and this rate applies to most goods and services. But, there are also some things that are charged at a reduced rate of 5% – including sanitary protection products.
Although 5% is obviously better that 20%, some things are exempt from VAT altogether such as postage stamps, cycle helmets, or financial and property transactions.
And while that’s great, it’s eventually left many questioning why are we still paying any VAT at all on sanitary products – something so many women rely on every single month to allow them to carry on living their lives as normal.
Tampons and other ‘sanitary protection products’ are currently classed as ‘luxury’, ‘non-essential’ products, and the government have stated that EU rules stop them from lowering the VAT any further than 5% or scrapping the tax entirely.
At the moment, Australia is leading the way – beginning 2019 by officially scrapping the tampon tax for residents.
But what about the UK?
Back in 2015, 320,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to scrap the Tampon Tax, and in March 2016, Parliament accepted an amendment proposed by Labour MP Paula Sherriff that would end Tampon Tax once and for all in the UK.
However, although former Prime Minister David Cameron petitioned European ministers to change the rules regarding the ‘Tampon Tax’, progress has been slow.
In 2016, former Prime Minister Cameron announced that, “Britain will be able to have a zero rate for sanitary products, meaning the end of the Tampon Tax.”
But former Chancellor George Osbourne later confessed that he couldn’t lower the VAT rate due to the rules of the EU. However, with Brexit looming – that may be about to change.
And there’s no question that it needs to change soon. Recently, government MPs have begun to address the issue of ‘period poverty’, the instance where some women simply cannot afford sanitary products, jeopardising their health and cleanliness.
In June last year MP Danielle Rowley revealed that having periods can cost women hundreds of pounds every year. She said, “”We know the average cost of a period in the UK over a year is £500 – many women can’t afford this.”
Equalities minister Victoria Atkins responded at the time, stating that the VAT would be removed when – and if – Britain finally leave the EU. However, this of course still remains to be seen.
In August 2017, Tesco became the very first UK supermarket to swallow the 5% Tampon Tax VAT themselves, which meant customers did not have to pay the extra for sanitary products.
Waitrose the Co-op also now pay the Tampon Tax on behalf of their customers, meaning that sanitary products are available women for a cheaper price in their stores as they will have the 5% VAT charged covered.
And in the middle of last year, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch announced a £15 million Tampon Tax Fund, with money being ploughed into tackling period poverty, and some more to be given to causes benefitting vulnerable women and young girls, such as domestic abuse and rape charities.
But it’s fair to say that plenty of young people and women are still very much struggling with the issue in England. In fact, Teenage activist Amika George has started the powerful #FreePeriods legal campaign in an effort to get the government to provide free access to sanitary products in schools and colleges across the UK – you can donate here.
And with plenty of places still charging the VAT, the Tampon Tax has not yet been fully abolished – begging the question, when will the law change?