THE PINK TAX!
Updated: Apr 17, 2021
There are various axions justifying the price hike for - similar products but varying prices for both men and women. In the contemporary era of E commerce and ruthless market, one cannot deny the fact that women are paying extra for the similar products as compared to men, with the sheer difference of colours and sometimes even for lesser quantity. While some theorists base their justifications in the roots for generating enough revenue for the R&D department of women’s products, the facts and statistics have stated otherwise. Time and again – ‘Shrink it and pink it’ has been coined. It explains the less product content for women pay more than that designed for men. This clearly depicts an inter relationship between economy and gender. The pink tax has mainly impacted the personal care industry which includes inexorable prices inclusive of taxes on adult women diapers and sanitary napkins which stands out the most needed commodities for leading a hygienic life. A pack of ten adult diapers for women specifically costs Rs.560 as against Rs.360 for gender neutral diapers. The shower gel for men would cost Rs. 139 as against women’s product marked at Rs.150. A women’s razor costs Rs.220 while a men’s razor is marked at Rs.80. That’s a hike of 175%. On the other hand, the sanitary napkins which seem to be an inevitable need and a non luxury item for every women stands to be projected at 12% G.S.T. in India, instead of being reduced, has been promised to be totally removed. While the final tax has been reduced to nil after multiple controversies and protests, the products used in the manufacture of sanitary napkins (e.g. cotton, glue, etc.) seem to be still taxed at the rate of 18% while other raw materials such as wood pulp and paper are taxed at the rate of 12%. That dissolves the whole concept of removing the GST at the very first place. Moving beyond the national boundaries, the economic discrimination has acted as a major research grounds for many contemporary sociologists. In December 2015, The Department of Consumer Affairs in America came to a conclusion ,after a rigorous research which included a detailed price analysis of 91 companies and 35 products varying from clothing to personal care, that there was an overall 7% increase in the products of women’s utility which was mostly higher in the above mentioned criteria. It was certainly surprising to observe the increasing gendered pay gap which states that women earn 79 cents for every one dollar that a man earns.
In India, according to the Economist Times, men make Rs.242 every hour as against mere Rs.46 – the whole amount that an Indian woman makes every hour. The above mentioned gender pay gap and exorbitant prices on women’s products which involves the non luxury items like sanitary napkins has acted as a means of suppression against women via economic means. To an extent, the advocates have tried justifying the pink tax in the clothing sector by explaining the different body types and expensive fabrics used for women’s clothes as against that of men. Although the hypothesis fails to address the other market strategies subjected to women.
A research by HBS has unfolded another axion or strand of the problem of pink tax and the economic discrimination faced by women as against men or neutral gender. It stated that :
“Women make decision in the purchases of 94% of home furnishing, 92% of vacation, 91% of home, 60% of automobiles and 51% of consumer electronics”
To generate greater profits via more sales, any company would target the female customers which includes food, fitness and personal care. Women being the caretakers are the ones who decide for grocery shopping list and fitness and beauty which mostly includes clothes and shoes.
In 2009, Dell a US multinational technology company was criticized for launching “Della” to promote the manufacturer’s line of inspiration Mini 10 notebooks. It was astonishing to observe that the site included a video on shopping for vintage clothing and certain tech tips which stated various ways ladies can use strange devices. The whole sale strategy faced a backlash on the internet as it was awash with stereotyping women with only tracking calories, shopping, various food recipes, etc stating that the usage of technology for women was restrictive to that four old pastoral kitchen walls.
The fact is that female consumers contribute to about $20 Trillion to the annual consumer spending which is predicted to increase by two times in the upcoming five years. Women or female consumers represent an extensive growth market, partially because the market compels them to buy expensive necessary items even while suffering the gender pay gap at a global level and partially because the economic discrimination has made many women immune to the current economic suppressions.
Apoorva Singh is a final year undergraduate student with a strong proclivity towards political, economic, and social issues being faced by women and the queer community of the society. Having worked with student run queer organisation for more than two years, she has developed zero tolerance towards the chauvinistic character on which patriarchy runs in our society, and how the traditional mind-set always fans the flame of the same.
Written by Apoorva Singh