The pink tax is the gender-based pricing that aims to upcharge women’s products and services with only the packaging different compared to men’s products. Whenever you walk into a shop, you will quickly note the role of advertising in overcharging women.
Women’s products are packaged in dazzling shades of pink and light purple, while the male products are in dark blue or black. The male products have muskier scents while the female products are flower scented with unique catchy names.
The naming, the variation in colours and even the added glitter are all good, but beneath the advertising craze lies a bigger problem; a huge gap in pricing. Consumer reports in the United States show that women’s products and services have been known to be as high as 50% more compared to those targeting men.
The pink tax is a ploy by privately-owned companies to make their products look more targeted and thought out to squeeze out more money from unsuspecting women. In Kenya, a lot of entrepreneurs have already discovered that if you want to make money, start a business targeting women. Thus, when you walk around towns, you will be hit by several women’s clothing shops, hair and beauty parlours and other services for women.
The difference in pricing is quite evident in personal hygiene products such as shampoos, razors and body washes. Sadly, even services that both genders should benefit equally from tend to overcharge women.
So what exactly does it cost on average to be a woman?
Expensive Menstrual Hygiene products
Aside from the pink tax, women also have to worry about the tampon tax. This is the tax that is imposed on tampons by the government. Tampons should not be taxed since women need them every month for most of their lives. However, they have somehow considered luxury items along with other items that are not exempted from taxation.
There is a bit of hope that the tampon tax will be scrapped as of March 2021. Hopefully, the prices of period products will fall over time without sacrificing quality. Monthly periods affect all women at some point in their lives despite their ethnicity. However, menstrual hygiene products are incredibly high while luxury items like condoms are free! It makes no sense since one can abstain from sexual intercourse but not from monthly periods.
The government should consider subsidising the prices of menstrual hygiene products, including medication and heating pads. They are basic needs for all women around the globe.
Health care costs
According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, women tend to spend more money on health as compared to men. Between the ages of 0-16, males and females tend to spend roughly the same amount on taking care of their health. However, when women get to childbearing age, the cost increases significantly for them.
The cost of pre and post-maternity care, childbearing itself, general reproductive health and, for some women, fertility treatment is very high. The gap stays wide until the late forties when it shifts to men as they age. Men are prone to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancers and even knee replacement surgeries. However, the general cost of health for women outweighs the extra cost men pay as they age.
The wage gap
Women have been earning less than men throughout history. Across all occupations, women tend to be on the losing end when it comes to getting better pay. The bigger the role, the bigger the pay gap.
Sadly, the job description is the same for both genders, but women often take home less pay than their male counterparts. Though the gap has narrowed over the last fifty years, there is still a 20% difference as late as 2017, which can sum up to several million dollars.
The impact of parenthood on women and men
As the wage gap continues to decrease with time, women now face a different problem; the parenthood pay gap. Employers reward fathers with better pay and even bonuses, but the same grace does not extend to mothers.
A sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Michelle J. Budig, who studies the parenthood pay gap, noted that fatherhood increased men’s pay by 6%. According to her study, employers see fathers as more stable, committed and even more deserving. On the flip side, employers see motherhood as a disadvantage to them. The general idea is that mothers tend to work less and be counterproductive, which is not true. If anything, mothers have to work tirelessly to handle both their careers and their families.
It may not appear like a huge cost, but it is expensive to groom women. The cost of hair and makeup, manicure, pedicure, waxing, facials, and even clothing creates a hole in women’s pockets.
Men’s clothes and shoes may be more expensive, but the extras we pay for make up the difference.
While being a woman is a privilege, there seems to be more than one thing we need to fight for. If it is not for the right to speak against injustices like FGM, it is for the price of necessities like sanitary towels. Generally, being a woman is very expensive. But the better the quality of life you want to live, the higher the prices of products and services. It should not be so, but we have embraced it as the norm of life. Even though the Pink Tax Repeal Act of April 2018, to end gender-based price discrimination, did not receive a vote, we will continue fighting to have the price discrepancies evened out.