Washington may prohibit companies from charging higher prices on gender-specific products
13 Mar 2023 --- The US state of Washington is addressing consumer gender discrimination via a bill passed in the Senate. It aims to prohibit price differences in goods or services based on the gender of the consumers for whom the products are marketed. Bill 5171, introduced in the House today, does not address value-added taxes (VAT) but the commercial pricing by businesses.
“A person, firm, partnership, company, corporation or business shall not charge a different price for any two goods that are substantially similar if those goods are priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whom the goods are marketed and intended,” reads the bill.
It does not prohibit price differences in goods or services based on the amount of time it took to manufacture those goods, difficulty in manufacturing those goods and costs incurred in manufacturing. This includes the labor and materials used in manufacturing and any other gender-neutral reason for charging a different price for those goods.
If these rules are violated, the attorney general may petition the court for an order to enjoin and restrain the continuation of such transgressions.
released its first progress report on the national strategy for gender equity and equality.The bill comes as the White House recently
President Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris are advancing gender equity and equality based on securing basic rights, advancing the economy and morally ensuring the opportunity to realize the full potential of individuals.
According to an information hearing by the California Legislature, a woman in California pays approximately US$2,381 more for the same goods and services than men, the so-called pink tax. “If that estimate is accurate, then the average California woman pays approximately US$188,000 throughout her lifetime and in aggregate, the pink tax penalizes women across California to roughly US$47 billion each year.”
“Combined with other forms of financial discrimination – such as the pay gap – the pink tax helps to form a set of insidious and systematic barriers against equal economic opportunity for women, a barrier that is even higher for women of color.”
The Alliance For Period Supplies, a non-profit organization, states that sales taxes on menstrual supplies, i.e., tampon tax, raises the cost of these items and increases period poverty.
“The taxes levied on menstrual products are determined by each state. As of September 2022, 22 states charged taxes on period products, with these sales taxes ranging from 4 to 7%. Tampon taxes exist because they generate revenue for the state,” shares the organization.
Personal care pricing
A study on gender pricing by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found that 42% of the time, women’s products cost more than similar products for men. For personal care products, this was 13% more.
The highest price differences were in women’s shampoo and hair conditioner, which on average, cost 48% more. “Regardless of whether certain products are officially targeted to women, the price of men’s personal care products is clearly gender-based,” states DCA researchers.
For the study, DCA analyzed 91 brands and 794 products across five industries. Some personal care brands studied include: Studio 53, Kiss My Face, Gillette, Edge, Schick, BIC, Vaseline, Dial, Suave, Head & Shoulders, Aussie, Alberto VO5, Mitchum, Dove, Degree, Nivea, Skintimate, Rite Aid, Clear Scalp & Hair, Speed Stick, Degree, CVS and Neutrogena.
Tracking pink tax
An EU law introduced last April allows Member States to exempt VAT on sanitary products.
PersonalCareInsights reached out to the finance departments of these nations to investigate how they are responding to the law and whether there are plans among nations to take advantage of the EU tax exemptions. Concerningly, we find that reducing VAT to such products may not result in lower costs.
“For almost by default, the tax reduction was replaced by a higher pre-tax price,” Franja Zagorc, public relations officer at the Slovenian Ministry of Finance, previously told us.
Therefore, consumer gender discrimination may be absolved by removing or reducing VAT, or limiting companies from charging higher prices, as may Bill 5171 if it is successfully passed into law.
By Venya Patel
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