The Pink Tax In Malaysia: Women Products Are Charged More Than Men Products

by Katricia Lum

Woke has discussed a lot on gender issues,

From men’s insecurities to Malaysian female beauty standards, we always try to shed light on taboo topics Malaysians might not know about. 

Today’s article is no different, Woke wants you to know all about a certain systematic gender-based price discrimination that is not just exclusive to Malaysian women but also to women over all the world. 

It’s something faced by women everyday: at the supermarket, at the pharmacy, at the departmental store. 

Despite its cute & girly-sounding name, this phenomenon again perpetuates the inequality faced by women in their daily lives. 

Malaysian women already face so much backlash in the working force with less pay compared to their male counterparts and now an unjustified tax for “female” products too?!

We know you’re already wondering what we’re yelling about… 

Read on more to know this insidious ‘Pink Tax’…

What is the Pink Tax?

The pink tax is the extra amount that women or girls pay for essential products like shampoo, feminine hygiene, razors, toys and even medicine! 

Individually, the prices of products might not seem that big of a difference. Say, RM3.60 vs RM3.99. However those “little” increases add up over time. 

According to US website axthepinktax.com, a 30 year old woman had an unnecessary expenditure of more than $40,000 from the pink tax alone! That’s around RM174,000 (You could buy a car with that amount or like thousands plates of banana leaf)!

As stated earlier, one of the products with pink tax is feminine hygiene products. Yep, this means pads & tampons. Also known as the tampon tax, the US government doesn’t exempt these products from being taxed unlike other non-luxury necessities like groceries and prescriptions.

Last time we checked all women need pads or tampons. Pretty essential to us. 

Okay, you might be wondering as Malaysian woman, why should you care what Americans from the home of the brave, the home of the free & the home of the taxed get taxed for?

Because it happens to us too!

But more on that later.

Pink Tax Examples

Source: Fentoninprint.com

What would this article be without any examples of the pink tax, right? 

Woke ain’t all about that “all talk, no action” life. 

Ahh, you fellow consumer will be happy to hear this, local Malaysian female products aren’t taxed! 

BUT

We’ll be taking examples from the US & UK as some of our essential products do come from these countries so we’re still affected by the pink tax, just a little. But still, it’s there.

#1: Razors

Source: Walgreens
Source: Walgreens

#2: Shampoo & Conditioner

Source: Walgreens
Source: Walgreens

#3. Toys

#4. Medicine

Pink Tax Malaysia: Before

Although we did say that local Malaysian products don’t get pink taxed but it wasn’t always this way.

Before this, during our previous previous government ruling where the GST system was still being used, women’s sanitary items got a 6% tax because these items were considered “Beauty and Health Products” category in the GST regulations. Because you know, sanitary items aren’t essential at all.

No more beauty blenders, we using pads to blend our makeup now.

Pink Tax Malaysia: Now

However, with a new government ruling and a new tax system (SST) in place, all taxes on sanitary products were reduced to zero.

Instead of Beauty & Health products, women’s sanitary products are now classified under the Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles.

That’s a step-up… We guess.

So yeah even razors in Malaysia are charged the same so hooray! Maybe Malaysia isn’t bad as we thought huh?

Hah.

Score 1 for Malaysia after all

Conclusion

Even though the pink tax isn’t imposed by the government (anymore), many companies & manufacturers still put an increase on feminine products or anything with a “girly” packaging (does the colour pink & cursive font cost more to print? A question to ask).

In the US & UK, there are no laws stopping companies & manufacturers from doing so which in turn means even Malaysian consumers still get affected by this pink tax.

So what are we to do?

The only way to stop these big cronies from pink taxing us ladies is pretty simple:

Don’t buy their products.

The power lies within your wallet.

And hey since local products such as Giant-brand shavers or razors don’t get pink-taxed, you’ll be contributing to our local economy too!

This article is a part of Woke’s Taboo Series where we dive deep into topics most Malaysians shy away from. If you like reading this, check out our other Taboo articles on sugar baby Malaysia and male vs female leadership roles in Malaysia.

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