Protesters gathered in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia, for a rally organised by Subeta Vimalarajah to denounce and hopefully end the GST tax placed on female hygiene products.
Originally introduced by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2000, the GST tax on female hygiene products is on thin ice this month as state treasurers from all across Australia will be meeting to re-address the tax.
The reason why these items are taxed is because according to the Australian Federal Government, they do not meet the criteria to be an essential health item. This means that menstruating Australians pay an additional 10% to get pads and tampons because since they are not classed as essential; pads and tampons are a ‘luxury item’ to be taxed. This heavily contrasts to what most women will tell you: that a period is anything but a luxury.
Since 2000, the Australian Government has taxed every menstruating Australian 10% every time we get our period. It is estimated that our periods earn the government a whopping $25 million each year, writes Subeta Vimalarajah on her campaign website.
What however makes this esteemed cut includes: condoms (despite the fact that nearly every male tries to talk a female out of using one), lubricants, nicotine patches, fruit, sunscreen and tea bags. Most of these items are understandably an essential health item (but one is left to wonder how tea bags managed to make it into that list), it leaves one very big question.
Is not the reproductive health and hygiene of 10 million Australians important as well?
This product categorization in taxes has enabled sexism to be institutionalised into everyday Australian life. It is one of the many ways that women are still considered to be a minority and this includes the gender wage gap and other hurdles that women have yet to over come.
“The tax on pads and tampons was birthed and survived in a system that disregards the needs of women,” said Alisha Aitken-Radburn, President of the Sydney Student Union at the rally.
Ms. Aitken-Radburn was one of the various speakers at the event, calling on NSW Premier Mike Baird to get on board with revoking the GST tax on female sanitary items. Following the speeches, the rally consisted of live skits as well as the signing of the giant novelty tampon.
When asked if she thought there would be a breakthrough with today’s rally, 22-year-old Kawshi replied, “I think we will definitely make a break through.”