Fight against the tampon tax ongoing:
If 2015 was the year of the period, 2016 is looking to be the year of menstrual legislation. Women are fighting back and menstrual activism is on the rise! A class action lawsuit has been filed by a Tampa, FL woman against major retailers (CVS, Walgreens etc.) as well as State agencies to repeal the tampon tax and refund women for their payment of the tax. Not just a frustrated customer, Carlee Wendell is also founder of FLOW (For the Love of Women), a non-profit organization that helps distribute feminine hygiene products to women in shelters. She is requesting that the State stop taxing women on tampons and other menstrual products (essential products), just as they do for Rogaine (a non-essential, hair re-growth product) for men. Will Florida follow the lead of other states with such legislation? On July 21, 2016, New York became the eleventh state to eliminate the tampon tax.
“The ‘tampon tax’ is not a marginal issue – it’s the force of structural sexism at work”
Gabrielle Jackson of The Guardian, in an article suggesting that sexism is entrenched in the consumer products industry and by extension society as a whole, writes that “not only should the tax on menstrual products be lifted immediately but menstrual cups and pads should be available through pharmacies and listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, available for a basic flat fee or free for women on benefits.” If such benefit claims could be made, this would create a whole new avenue of support for working women who pay into a benefit plan. While the tampon tax remains in Australia, the city of Sydney is reviewing a proposal that if approved will provide free tampons and pads in public buildings.
Period policies in the workplace:
While the tampon tax is still a very real battle, some period positive policies are occurring. Period leave is now a real thing… at least for women at the not-for-profit, Coexist in Bristol, UK. The organization is encouraging their employees to take better care of themselves, and in turn is seeing more creativity and efficiency from team members. Will others follow suit?
The call for workplaces, and public agencies to better support women’s period needs in the workplace is not new. Since 2013 Nancy Kramer, founder of freethetampons.org, has been advocating for business owners and public agencies to provide menstrual products to women, free of charge, helping to meet women at their most basic needs.
“Sport, exercise and the menstrual cycle: where is the research?” ask BMJ
Not only do women need access to menstrual products, they should also be given equal and accurate information regarding their health when it comes to medicine research. Last month, an editorial in British Medical Journal (BMJ), revealed a gender gap in sports medicine research spurring a conversation not only about sport medicine, but the inclusion (or really exclusion) of women in medicine research. Doctoral student Georgie Bruinvels noted the gap stating that because of the complexities of the menstrual cycle and variance that occurs physiologically due to hormone changes, investigation into women’s health and sports medicine is limited.
An earlier study also found a gender gap in sports medicine research. In that study, researchers looked at exercise studies published in three major sports medicine journals between 2011 and 2013, and found that 39 percent of all of the participants were women, and 61 percent were men, according to the findings published in the European Journal of Sport Science in 2014.
This isn’t the first time conversation about women and sports medicine has made headlines. When Heather Watson attributed her poor performance at the Australian open in 2015 to her period, conversation among athletes and experts in sports medicine brought menstruation to center stage. SMCR member Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, founder and scientific director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR) issued her own concern regarding the BMJ findings in an interview with CBC. “Half the human race doesn’t have accurate information about the response to whatever the intervention is,” Prior said. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”
Gaps in gendered research like that found in sports medicine are one of many reasons the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research started the journal Women’s Reproductive Health. It is bringing attention to issues of women’s health often overlooked in academic research. The journal welcomes submissions from multiple disciplines.