'Hard choice between food and hygiene': what Australians are saying


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As calls for the tampon tax to be abolished reach a fever pitch, here's what Australians are saying

Reducing GST on sanitary products is vital as menstruation is an undeniable aspect of many women's lives, something we cannot choose to afford or not. For many, sanitary products are just another thing to pile into your trolley. But imagine what it is like for a low-income woman to fork out between $4 and $10 a month. When my weekly grocery budget was only $50 a week, sanitary items amounted to almost 10% of a weekly shop. Some women might need to make hard choices between food and their basic hygienic dignity. Or go back to rags. - Serina Bird, blogger, msfrugalears.com

I have never believed in affirmative action, I just believe if your work to the best of your ability you will be rewarded on your merits however more and more I realise that there are a number of 'little' things in society that do add up to giving women a disadvantage. The tampon tax is one of these. It is a small financial cost but it has a bigger message. It represents another daily demonstration of the way women are treated differently. Can anyone really argue that dealing with a natural bodily function in a hygienic way is a luxury and hence have a luxury tax applied to it? - Jane Slack-Smith, founder, Investors Choice Mortgages

Here's what Australians have to say about the tampon tax, writes Sharyn McCowen

GST on sanitary products should be abolished for two reasons. Firstly, GST is not intended to be a tax on essential items. Sanitary products are essential items so imposing GST on them is wrong. Secondly, imposing this tax is essentially imposing a tax on 50% of the population and exempting the other 50%. That's not a tax it's a charge on women and that's unfair. - Mark Chapman, head of communications, H&R Block

Access to education is a basic human right. Making sanitary products more affordable and accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls will help improve their access to education, and thus their opportunity for achieving their aspirations and potential. NAIDOC Week has recently highlighted the incredible achievements of so many deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who, because of past government policies were locked out of our education system. If we want equality as an outcome then we need to enact equity - giving people what they need to be successful. An important part equity is understanding past wrongs and their inter generation effects. Let us do everything we can to support the aspirations of our younger generations who have so much to offer the future of this country. - Janine Mohamed, CEO of Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives

Given the regressive nature of GST, we exempt essential items such as fresh food to limit the negative impact on those on a low income. Given that they're an essential item, sanitary products should be treated in the same way. It will make a small difference, but given that women are disproportionately low income earners and they are the only ones affected by this tax, removing GST on sanitary products would be a small step towards levelling the financial playing field between men and women. - Sarah Hunter, economist

Women are 2.5 times more likely to spend their retirement in poverty - that's a confronting statistic. There's many reasons why women face poorer financial outcomes in retirement, such as the gender pay gap and stepping out of the work force to care for children or other family members. More needs to be done across a range of measures to improve women's overall economic security and close the super gap, but even small changes to tax and policy settings can help. Removing the tax on feminine hygiene products would provide a little bit more money in the pockets of Australian women and when it comes to improving financial outcomes, every little bit counts! - Nerida Cole, head of advice, Dixon Advisory

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Sharyn McCowen is Money's digital editor. She has a degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University, and was a newspaper reporter before moving to magazines and finance.