This August, as we celebrate the strong, empowered women of South Africa and their contributions to our history, we can’t help but shine a light on a pervasive issue that still affects women’s finances today: the so-called ‘Pink Tax’. And no, it’s not a fancy new tax introduced by SARS!
Pink Tax is a largely unknown issue that influences over half of our nation’s population. Every woman who makes purchases would have at some time been subjected to pink tax. But what is it and how can you protect your budget from it?
Wait, What’s the Pink Tax?
First off, let’s clarify: the ‘Pink Tax’ isn’t an official tax. It’s a catchy term pointing to the often-higher prices for products or services that are targeted towards women. And yep, you guessed it – these products are usually pink!
Ladies, how many times have you noticed that your razor, body wash, or shampoo costs more than the men’s versions? Even services like haircuts and dry cleaning are pricier for us. Welcome to the world of the Pink Tax! In South Africa, as in many parts of the world, this gender-based price discrimination is alive and well.
And let’s not forget about the ‘Tampon Tax.’ Until 2019, South African women were paying a 15% VAT on sanitary products. Thanks to activists like Nokuzola Ndwandwe, who successfully pushed the government, these products are now a zero-VAT item. That’s a win, but there’s more to be done.
But why should you care about the Pink Tax? Well, consider this: South African women already earn an average of 28% less than men. Combine this wage gap with the Pink Tax, and you’ll see why we should all be concerned. It’s more than just a few extra rands; it’s about fairness and equality.
How Does Pink Tax Affect South African Women?
In a country where women make up more than half the population and are often the primary caregivers and breadwinners, the Pink Tax can take a significant toll on their finances.
Basic Essentials: Items like sanitary products, which are essential for women, add an extra burden. While the South African government has taken steps to make sanitary pads more accessible by making them zero-rated for VAT, the Pink Tax still applies to many other products.
Personal Care Products: When shopping in the personal care aisle, women’s products like razors, body wash, and shampoo are often more expensive than their male counterparts, even though they serve the same purpose.
Services: It’s not just products; services like dry cleaning or haircuts often come with a higher price tag for women.
Clothing: From t-shirts to jeans, women’s clothing is often priced higher than similar items in men’s sections.
Toys and Kids’ Items: Pink Tax starts early. Even children’s toys and clothes marketed towards girls can be more expensive.
Health Insurance: In some cases, women might even pay more for health insurance simply because they are women.
When you consider that South African women, on average, earn 28% less than their male counterparts, the extra costs from Pink Tax are even more concerning. In a country grappling with economic challenges and high levels of inequality, the financial burden of the Pink Tax is an issue that needs addressing.
What Can We Do About It?
Educate and Raise Awareness: Here’s the good news! We can do something about it. Firstly, let’s talk about it. The more people are aware of the Pink Tax, the more we can fight against it. Equip yourself with knowledge to save potentially hundreds or thousands of rands in the long run. Many consumers aren’t aware of the Pink Tax. By educating ourselves and others, we can make informed decisions and demand fair pricing.
Shop Smart: Compare prices between “men’s” and “women’s” products. If the only difference is the color or packaging, opt for the cheaper option. For instance, instead of opting for those fancy female razors, why not buy the equally effective men’s version? When purchasing beauty products, remember that most times, it’s the same ingredients in a different package.
Support Brands That Fight Pink Tax: Support brands that are saying no to the Pink Tax and offer equal pricing for similar products, irrespective of gender. Vote with your wallet and choose companies that treat you fairly. Some brands have taken a stand against Pink Tax and offer gender-neutral products or ensure equal pricing. Support these companies and encourage others to do the same.
Advocate for Policy Changes: Reach out to policymakers, and advocate for laws that prohibit gender-based price discrimination. Dedicate some time to research and price comparison. And when you find stores offering reasonable prices, share the word! Harness the power of social media and personal recommendations to champion cost-effective shopping.
Challenge Businesses: If you notice a price disparity based on gender, don’t be afraid to question it. Ask businesses why they charge more for women’s products or services.
In today’s modern age, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and informed about hidden costs like the Pink Tax. By understanding, discussing, and making conscious choices, we can all move towards a fairer and more equitable society.
Pink Tax is a real and unfair burden on South African women. As we celebrate Women’s Month, let’s challenge these discriminatory practices and work towards a more equitable future for all. Let’s not just wear pink; let’s fight the Pink Tax.