Alif Rahim, Samia Rahman, and Poushi Razzaque
What is Pink Tax?
The term pink tax refers to the extra amount that women pay for products like razors, shampoo, haircuts, clothes, dry cleaning, and more. It is sometimes perceived as price discrimination or gender-pricing. The pink tax is the reason why products marketed to only women are more expensive than similar products marketed to men. The pink tax is a lifelong cost for female consumers and the cost may add up to around $1,500 per year. The pink tax is a system of discriminatory pricing on products and services that are based on gender.
Pink Tax in Bangladesh:
In local markets of Bangladesh, 250 ml shower gels by a well-known brand are being sold at Tk. 375 and Tk. 420, the latter for women. Heading over to the toys section, Barbie and Ken are tagged with a price of Tk. 2680 and Tk. 2480. Other stuff for girls and boys have different pricing though the products are of the same quality. Discrepancies exist, in low and high a number.
Regular necessities like a sanitary napkin are considered a luxury cosmetic item in many parts of Bangladesh. The majority of the sanitary napkin prices range from BDT 70-145/pack which is a lot for a necessity good. Even female-oriented services e.g. beauty parlors, salons are taxed differently than male-oriented services. The pink tax is prevalent in Bangladesh affecting the purchase behavior of female consumers of the country.
Until now we saw how the marketers are charging women extra for the same goods used by both sexes, now let’s come to the products which only the women require as necessary stuff but considered to bathe “luxury cosmetic items” — the sanitary napkins. Till date pads are viewed as luxury items in various parts of Bangladesh. Therefore, the luxury tax is imposed on these items. Luxury taxes are usually placed on products that are thought to be unneeded. The irony is a male shaving his beard or washing his hair is considered more necessary than feminine hygiene according to our patriarchal society.
Men completely transforming themselves getting a 100 bucks worth of haircut and women getting 1000 bucks worth haircut and still looking the same- this joke needs to get to its end. A woman needs to be treated equal, equal to a human being. And removing the pink tax will be the rousing step toward it.
How to avoid pink tax:
Luckily, there are some steps we can take to combat this issue. We can switch to the men’s or unisex versions of commonly overpriced products – such as razors or shampoo. Or, we can be conscientious of where we shop. Some companies reduce the price of women’s products they sell to minimize the effect of the pink tax.
But if these options don’t work for you, being smart about the credit cards you use can help offset the cost of the pink tax.
Some ways to fight against pink tax:
- Shop Around (Some businesses charge more for services, like dry cleaning women’s clothing or haircuts, and some don’t. Shop around for the fairest deal.)
- Buy more gender-neutral products
- Support women-owned businesses
- Support companies that take a stand against pink tax
- Create awareness against pink tax
From the critic’s view, women are so easily brainwashed by marketing that they are prevented from choosing the lesser-priced but otherwise “identical” male-marketed alternative. As a result, they are not bothered about the price of the commodity which causes them to support “pink-tax” indirectly. Because they are buying those things at a high price rather than taking any action against it.
While oppositions are saying that removing pink tax would be subjective because the difference between men’s and women’s products is not always easy to see. Garments owners are saying that lowering the prices for women’s products could lead to employee layoffs.
In this 21st century, the world is progressing at a rampant speed. Governments and corporations are trying to ensure gender equality and inclusion. Being a developing country, Bangladesh is also endeavoring to take part in this noble mission. But due to poor socio-economic state and lack of education, women empowerment is not being achieved at a decent pace. On top of that, the culture of most of our rural areas is highly conservative which is also blocking from spreading progressive rhetoric. We cannot progress as a nation while holding regressive views on gender. We as a society need to acknowledge this before it’s too late.