In the next few days, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) will vote on a legislation eliminating taxes on menstrual products like tampons and pads, a move that would save California women around $20.2 million per year.
Assembly members Cristina Garcia (D) and Ling Ling Chang (R) put forth Assembly Bill 1561 in January. A bipartisan decision by the Assembly to push the bill forward makes Gov. Brown’s call the last step in doing away with the so-called “tampon tax” in the Golden State.
Legislators like Garcia and activists nationwide know that Brown’s decision will be pivotal—not only for women in California, but for the nationwide fight for equality. “Basically we are being taxed for being women,” Garcia said in a press release on the Assembly’s web site. “This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice.”
The Assembly’s vote also comes on the heels of activist pressure at the state and national level to push back against the tampon tax, all of it part of a growing movement on-the-ground to end taxation on menstrual products once and for all. (Eleven states have already cancelled such taxes—but of them, five have no sales tax on any products.)
Helen Lee and her twin sister Rachel, both 18-year-old students at UCLA, launched a petition in support of AB 1561 that garnered thousands of signatures. “While it may be just a bill,” Helen said in a Youtube message to the governor, “it has the potential to change lives of people with periods, mainly women, all across California.”
“Lack of affordable menstrual products is a problem that has been acknowledged in the developing world, but has been all but ignored here in the U.S.,” activist and writer Jennifer Weiss-Wolf told Ms. “A central component of successful advocacy requires elevating the national discourse around the topic of periods.”
Weiss-Wolf, who has been described as the “architect” of national public policy surrounding tampon taxes, launched a petition in conjunction with Cosmopolitan magazine calling on legislators nationwide to end taxation on menstrual products. “My goal was to call national attention”Weiss-Wolf said, “to the tax issue, in particular, but more broadly to issues of equity and parity vis-à-vis menstruation.”
Michele Sleighel is working on her thesis for a MA in Communication at the University of Texas in San Antonio and has an undergrad degree in PR from the University of Texas in Austin. She’s an editorial intern at Ms. When she’s not researching and writing, she drinks coffee and thinks about researching and writing. She’s very proud of her El Paso roots.