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Pink tax: the cost of being a woman

2 Sep 2020

By Mahlatse Mothiba

To mark women’s month, BeyondHer, a media and broadcasting company, hosted an interactive online workshop on August 15 on Crowdcast titled “I Pay Pink Tax”, to highlight the hidden costs women pay.

Pink tax refers to products and services that women need as compelled by gender habits, society and nature, that are not necessary for men.

In 2018 financial services group Sanlam delegated the Imagination Alliance research house to conduct a survey among 500 women and 500 men to investigate the existence of pink tax in South Africa and found that women generally have to pay more for their monthly essentials compared to men.

Founded by media entrepreneur and lupus advocate Zola Brunner, BeyondHer invited speakers from different industries and disciplines to the workshop who hilighted the relevance of the phenomenon and its relatability to women from all walks of line.

A presenter at the workshop, Adele Barnard, who is a financial planner at Sanlam in the Western Cape, said “It is good to remember that pink tax is not an actual tax”, but that the term is used to highlight how expensive it is for a female based on the cost of toiletries, a haircut and medical procedures such as pap smears.

She said that this had given birth to the movement ‘Axe The Pink Tax’ in the USA to raise awareness about the phenomenon.

Abigail Visagie, a media personality and journalist who also spoke at the workshop, said that her “working environment requires that I spend more on my makeup and clothing compared to male colleagues”.

Image is everything in her field, which means the cost of clothing, shoes and makeup is high. Whereas her male colleagues can wear the same pants just with different shirts to have a different look, Visagie has to invest in shirts, pants, dresses and skirts, which all add up to pink tax.

Barnard’s collaboration with BeyondHer and the research both parties conducted prior to the workshop demonstrated the difference in the pricing of essentials such as razors, roll-on and vitamins for men and women. Their research found that identical razors of the same brand and design with the only difference being the colour (often pink for female products) and the labelling, cost more for women.

Dr Sibu Lubelwana

Ursula Dean

Abigail Visagie

Wth other panellists that included Dr Sibu Lubelwana, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, IT manager Ursula Dean, and Chelsea Hornby, the founder of the Elle menstrual cup, Barnard advised that as much as females cannot entirely avoid pink tax, they should do their research before purchasing goods and services, and look at buying products that are gender neutral or targeted at men, for example razors.

BeyondHer hosts a masterclass and a workshop every month on different themes that are related to finance and business with the aim of educating women on financial freedom and wealth creation. More information can be found on the Instagram account @beyondhersa.



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