Inflation is exacerbating pre-existing problems that women face
Pink Tax has been a prominent issue for those who menstruate but now inflation is only making it worse
When they say inflation is upon us, they’re not joking. Students are forced to limit their Fortino’s-turned-Food Basics runs to just the essentials, rethink the frequency of their Uber Eats orders and spend Black Friday at home this year and far away from one’s laptop.
Inflation is having an enormous impact on low-income households in particular, who spend more than half of their income on daily essential items. Individuals in the top twenty percent of the income quintile on the other hand, only spend about thirty percent on essentials and spend the majority of it on luxury items.
The cherry on top? Inflation impacts the price points for essential items far more than luxury goods. This means that low-income families must make sacrifices that look more like cutting back on essential items like healthy food rather than re-evaluating the purchase of a Starbucks holiday drink.
For women and those who use feminine products, the consequences of inflation are further exacerbated due to the preexisting pink tax. If you didn’t know already, the pink tax refers to the gender-specific and straight up discriminatory pricing of products that are advertised for those who identify as women.
Companies love to dangle bright colors, flowers, and passion periwinkle grapefruit-scented products to market toward women while jacking up the prices. These advertisements function to convince those who identify as women, their femininity lies within those products. The next thing you know, women end up paying thirteen per cent more than men for the same essential items.
In addition to the need for purchasing universal basic hygiene products, women and those who menstruate are faced with the challenge of ensuring their menstrual products are always stocked.
Did you know that before 2015, period products such as pads and tampons were taxed as luxury items in Canada? It was only on July 1, 2015 that the federal government realized that maybe they shouldn’t be taking advantage of a natural bodily process that individuals can’t control.
Although taxing menstrual products as essential items was a step in the right direction, this also means that these prices will be affected more as a result of inflation. With poverty disproportionately affecting individuals of color, women and those who menstruate who fall under the same category would face the same hardships, if not more.
You didn’t think I was done, did you?
We can also discuss the already uneven economic recovery from the pandemic that affects women's ability to purchase essential items. The gender wage gap is a problem that somehow keeps getting worse, even at a time where the world is allegedly progressing forward.
The child care crisis during the pandemic resulted in a decrease in women’s involvement in the labor force and their earnings along with it. Specifically, women with lower-wage jobs, immigrant women and Black women were hit the hardest. Evidently, inflation affects different women through different ways.
For example, gender-based societal and moral obligations, like being responsible for a disproportionate amount of household shopping, means that women spend longer in stores and are therefore more likely to experience the stress of inflation.
Without government intervention, these issues will only continue to get worse. Given that inflation has been an issue for the better part of thirty years, the research on the intersectionality of the problem is very limited. Policies need to start keeping up with inflation, meaning that preexisting federal assistance programs must expand to actually live up to the “assistance” part.
I know that this simply adds on to the never-ending list of issues the world is facing, but I guess that’s what you have to do when you’re constantly left high and dry. So students need to use their voices to help solve such problems. Vote in elections, donate, and support organizations that are fighting against things like period poverty.