Activists celebrate as 'sexist' tampon tax is scrapped

Sophie Harrold and Sanya Masood get ready to deliver donations of sanitary products to women in need

Sophie Harrold and Sanya Masood get ready to deliver donations of sanitary products to women in need. Picture: Farah Masood. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners for gender equality are celebrating the abolition of "the sexist tampon tax".

As of Friday - New Year's Day - VAT no longer applies to women's sanitary products - a move promised in the March 2020 Budget - and Stevenage activists Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold are delighted. 

The two friends set up a charitable initiative called A Bloody Good Cause in 2015 in response to The Homeless Period - a campaign raising awareness of period poverty and the lack of government provision of sanitary products to homeless shelters and refuges.

Since then they have collected thousands of donations of sanitary products and delivered them to organisations across the country.

Sanya said: "It’s been a long road, with many setbacks, but we are absolutely thrilled the sexist tampon tax has finally been scrapped, thanks to years of campaigning by various people. This will no doubt have a positive impact on the affordability of menstrual products and will hopefully be a step towards the eradication of period poverty as a whole.

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"It has also been inspirational to see how years of campaigning by so many different people have taken the once taboo topic of menstruation to one which is now discussed so much more openly. It just goes to show that we can make big changes when we engage people through individual activism, on the things that really matter to us."

Since the UK left the European Union it is no longer bound by the EU VAT Directive which mandates a minimum five per cent tax on all sanitary products.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "I’m proud that we are delivering on our promise to scrap the tampon tax. Sanitary products are essential, so it’s right that we do not charge VAT.

"We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them available and affordable for all women."

Felicia Willow, chief executive of the Fawcett Society - a UK charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights - said: "We warmly welcome the scrapping of VAT on all sanitary products. It’s been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books."

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