Feminine hygiene products are basic necessities and must be exempt from VAT. We are campaigning for the VAT on tampons, sanitary towels and panty liners, as well as reusable products such as menstrual cups, sanitary towels and period underwear, to be abolished in Austria.
The female period is still a taboo subject in our society. Yet it has been part of most women's everyday lives for decades. Hand in hand with menstruation goes the need to spend money on feminine hygiene products. Statistically speaking, a woman needs around 10,000 to 17,000 tampons or sanitary towels for an average of 500 cycles over the course of her life. Until not so long ago, this product group was taxed at 20 per cent in Austria, on a par with champagne, caviar and other luxury items. On 1 January 2021, the tax rate in Austria was reduced to 10 per cent. Despite this reduction, the phenomenon of "period poverty" is a problem for many women.
Women cannot choose whether to buy feminine hygiene products. Tampons, sanitary towels, period underwear and the like are basic necessities that are very important for women's health and well-being. It is unfair that women have to bear an additional financial burden for products that they need every month. Reducing VAT on period products is therefore an important measure to promote gender equality.
In many countries, such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, India and certain African countries, VAT on period products has already been abolished. In Germany, France and the UK, VAT is significantly lower than in this country. It is time for Austria to follow suit and put an end to this discrimination against women. All women should have access to safe and affordable period products, regardless of their income.
We at Denns BioMarkt are setting an example: As early as 2022, we voluntarily reduced all feminine hygiene products by 10 per cent across Austria. During the same period, we also provided all female employees in all 34 locations in Austria with free period products.
By reducing prices on our own initiative and giving free period products to employees, we have relieved the financial burden on women in an area where they incur unavoidable costs.
Now we are going one step further and calling for the nationwide abolition of VAT on period products.