What is Pink Tax? - The Unbelievable Economy We Live In [Case Study]

Pratiksha Bajikar Pratiksha Bajikar
Mar 7, 2021 6 min read
What is Pink Tax? - The Unbelievable Economy We Live In [Case Study]

In a world where we want to believe we are marching towards gender equality, we many times have come across several disparities and unfair impediments that one gender encounters. Uh, no, that gender is certainly not the men. It has been implied that women, being inflicted with slangs of a weaker gender, and to go as far and call it the reproductive machine.

Not long ago when I was a teenager, I came across the gender bias in my own household. Yes, gender disparity starts at home. Many of these disparities have been engraved upon us as little kids. But the sad reality is that as grown ups, independent adults, women still take this burden and are barely aware of it. Women have come a long way from fighting for an education to getting a degree and having a paid job.

Women are executives, managing directors and CEOs. But little do we know that women, who are now making their own money are being extorted under the name of Pink Tax,  just because, we're women? Well it's not exactly a tax per se. It's just another disparity women deal with.

The Pink Tax
The Period Tax
Why do Women Pay the Pink Tax
How can we Stop Falling for the Pink tax

The Pink Tax

There are navy, blue and black colored packaging for products traditionally marketed for men. Meanwhile it is hard to miss the pink, lilac, purple packaging for roughly the same products traditionally intended for women. Razors, face wash, Shampoos, deodorants etc. are essentials used by both the genders. So what are freighting about? One subtlety that we seem to ignore is the price tag.

The products commonly used by men and women are differentiated based on an age-old PINK and Blue basis but its interesting (and disappointing) to see that these products, although being identical, are not priced equally. Women  products are charged higher than men products. This disparity, or the upcharge that women pay on essential products, is called the PINK TAX.

In a study called Cradle to Crane, published by the Department of Consumer Affairs, New York, after studying 800 products across genders and their variations, it was found that women paid 7% additional costs on essentials compared to costs paid by men on similar products. This price difference grows higher to 13% when it comes to items of personal care.

When observed, this price gap is evident in all the shopping categories such as 8% more on women’s clothing, 7% more for toys and accessories, 4% more for children’s clothing and other things that are intentionally marketed for women. Retailers have gone as far as pricing medicines differently just by changing the color of the packaging to pink and adding words like soft and gentle.

Not just products, but salon services too, offer different prices for the same services. When enquired about the same, most salon owners have given ridiculous explanations such as women have longer hair, difference in salon training or simply “this is how it is”.

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The Period Tax

We have to talk about the tax levied on sanitary napkins and menstruation products when we talk about the pink tax. Menstruation is a natural phenomenon and products related to it have been categorized as luxury items. In the wake of GST introduction in India, the tax on sanitary pads was 12%, that’s more than any other essential item.

In a report published by the NGO Dasra called 'Spot on!', it was found that nearly 23 million girls drop out of schools every year because of lack of access to hygienic menstruation facilities, including sanitary napkins.

 Only 12% women have access to Sanitary napkins in India
 Only 12% women have access to Sanitary napkins in India

Even after an uproar by activists to cut down taxes on essentials such as sanitary napkins, things have remained the same. In an interview with the Indian express, Mrs. Funnybones aka Twinkle Khanna stressed on the importance of sanitary pads being tax free. “For some strange reason India has 12 per cent GST on sanitary pads. Which is shocking.

Apparently, there are no taxes on brooms. I think they feel that women should keep their houses clean but it’s not as important to keep themselves clean.”, the writer said. She also pointed out that the lawmakers are 65 year old men who haven't experienced menstruation and have absolutely no clue why sanitary pads should be tax free.

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Why do Women Pay the Pink Tax

Marketing geniuses believe that men are more rational buyers and women are more gullible and emotional when it comes to shopping. According to them, women don't mind paying a little extra money for roughly the same products.

Retailers have found a way to make things look exclusive for women by, well making them Pink. There is actually no difference, more or less, in the products marketed for both the genders.

Pink tax
Pink tax

The vast disparity could also be seen when it comes to weddings. The amount of money that goes into the making of a bride, (wedding apparel, jewelry) is far more than what goes into making a groom.

The retail market is hyper-segmented and wants to make profits at all costs. It is not entirely their fault since women are ready to pay these extra costs. Most of the active female shoppers are not even aware that they are paying more than their counterparts.

How can we Stop Falling for the Pink tax

One might say so what if women pay a little more for the fancy products they use? To those asking, the difference between a man and woman spending on clothes, cosmetics, footwear etc. amounts to $1300 dollars annually. That is a significant amount for any woman who is working hard to earn money.

If we want to overcome this price gap, here is what we can do

  • Refrain from retailers who levy extra costs
  • Go for an alternative version if the difference is not huge
  • Support companies who are into gender neutral pricing


Is the Pink Tax Ethical?

No, Pink tax is not ethical because it is unfair.

What does the Pink Tax include?

Pink tax includes the extra amount of money women pay for specific products or services.

How long has Pink Tax been around?

Pink tax has been around for decades.


The pink tax levied on women makes it worse for them as they are already being paid less than men. Women are still battling the gender pay gap on all fronts. It is a fact that not all women are aware that they are being compelled to pay more. The pink tax hasn't been a rage amongst working women as they are oblivious to its existence.

This disparity has to be addressed and resolved because women are working as hard as men but spending way more than them. This imbalance will entail women being the weaker gender all along, which is not just unfair, but unacceptable.

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