Menstrual hygiene products are a basic necessity, but too many women and girls lack access. The homeless and incarcerated are particularly impacted, but access issues are far more widespread. One study found that 20% of girls miss school each month during their menstrual cycle, a figure exacerbated by the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products.
The Homeless Period Project, a non-profit organization based in Greenville, S.C., is working to ensure that all women and girls have the menstrual hygiene products they need. One local barrier they’ve identified is the South Carolina tax code.
In South Carolina, menstrual hygiene products are taxed at the same sales tax rate as general retail products. Dozens of items, such as prescription medicine, hearing aids, and prosthetics, are already exempt from sales tax. Adding menstrual hygiene products to the list of public goods exempted from sales tax would help lower the financial barrier to access for many women and girls.
The Homeless Period Project identified the issue while the DLI Group — Team Period Project — has taken up the challenge to change the tax code.
Our plan includes three steps: 1) identify legislative champions, 2) expand public awareness, and 3) motivate informed individuals and educated lawmakers to introduce and pass a bill exempting menstrual hygiene products from sales tax in the 2020 legislative session.