Scotland is one step ahead in abolishing gender-based pricing disparities

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Good Morning America

First and foremost, I want to shoutout AP Seminar for inspiring me to write this editorial. This AP course requires multiple argumentative-based College Board projects—PT1 (Performance Task) and PT2—in which we come up with a “should” question that triggers deeper thinking and analyzing into why exactly we are arguing a particular point. 

Pre-PT1, my group members and I were trying to brainstorm a “should” question with some currency and importance. After vetoing what felt like hundreds of ideas, we all were in favor of one topic that we could, for one, all directly relate to, and two, one that we all feel strongly about.

Our finalized “should” question was “Should America abolish the pink tax?”

For those who don’t know, the pink tax is a tariff placed on all feminine products whether it’s razors, tampons, pads, or even as far as pink clothing items. 

In our PT1, we focused more on why the pink tax should be extinguished and why exactly it is such a burden on us women. For TCT, I’m going to take a contrasting route and dive deeper into the first country in the world to not only place no tax on these vital products but declare them completely free: Scotland. 

November 24, 2020, was a special day for many—a day that will go down in history.

Why? Well, on that very day, the women of Scotland celebrated; they celebrated because they finally didn’t have to pay extra to live as a woman anymore. They finally received the equality and recognition all women deserve.

After working towards this goal for years prior, the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill was finally passed in late November of last year. Scotland passed such a law for various purposes; however, financial issues and humiliation were two reasons that stood out to me the most. 

It’s the 21st century—it boggles my mind that women have to pay to exist.”

According to a 2017 survey from Plan International UK, “One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom have been unable to afford period products” (Picheta, 2020). The survey also revealed that nearly half of 14- to 21-year-old girls are embarrassed by their periods. Additionally, it was revealed that about half had missed an entire day of school due solely to their period.

Women and girls around the world should never be ashamed of something natural, real, and essentially, inevitable. Periods are unavoidable—they may encumber women and be universally uncomfortable, but they’re a part of many’s lives. 

Although it is still incomprehensible that women have to pay to live, Scotland is a step ahead in terms of equalizing women and extinguishing gender price disparity. Their main motive was something they call “period poverty”; this is when those with low incomes cannot afford or access such products. With period poverty on the rise, they thought passing this bill would get rid of it, and fortunately, they were correct. With tampons and pads having no price attached, women scattering Scotland have had an increase in financial stability because they’re not spending $7-10 on tampons every single month (“Tackling ‘Period Poverty,’ Scotland Is 1st Nation to Make Sanitary Products Free,” 2021). 

Another survey released that “more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that about one in four respondents at school, college, or university in Scotland had struggled to access period products” (Diamond, 2020). This information casts a shadow over me—a dark and dull shadow. Never should women ever be struggling to get their hands on products that are a constant, imperative, and unavoidable aspect of living as women with a period. It blows my mind that now, three months from when Scotland did such a thing, no further countries have been influenced and followed their lead. 

It’s the 21st century—it boggles my mind that women have to pay to exist. Even though it took way too long, Scotland is finally the first country to show some common courtesy towards women.

My hopes for the future are that neighboring countries realize how much Scotland is being praised and how much they’re thriving and perhaps take some action to make women’s lives a bit simpler. And from there, the trend of free period products will spread across the globe until we’re living in a world with free menstrual products 

So, I applaud Scotland. I applaud Scotland for nationally improving women and girls’ lives, I applaud them for lifting such a weight off of their shoulders, and I applaud them for showing empathy towards the lives of women and girls.