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Women earn less, so why do they pay more?

Toys, clothes and even dry-cleaning cost more for women than for men. But that could be about to change.

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, it’s worth remembering that in addition to working for unequal pay, women are also expected to fork out more cash for everyday essentials. And it’s not just the ‘tampon tax’, under which feminine hygiene products are taxable (despite being medical necessities). There’s also the so-called ‘pink tax’; the extra amount paid by women for products which have exactly the same functionality as those used by men.

In clothing, items for girls cost 4 per cent more than for boys, and women’s apparel costs 8 per cent more than men’s. A study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found a $2 difference even in the case of identical uniforms.

The pink tax also applies to toys, with an average 7 per cent excess on girls’ toys and accessories. And when it comes to personal care products, women can expect to pay as much as 13 per cent more than men for the exact same type of razors and shampoo. The only difference; the pink packaging.

This inequality can extend to services, too. The dry-cleaning bill on a man’s garment is almost always lower than that of a woman’s, and a Northwestern study into the cost of car repair showed that women were quoted a higher price than men for exactly the same job.

“Price discrimination adds another layer to the wage inequality women face, making it harder sometimes for women to make ends meet,” says Surina Khan, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California.

In the UK, leading supermarket Tesco recently cut the price of women’s razors to match men’s; the pink and blue versions now cost exactly the same. The retail chain has maintained that the original difference in price was due to a higher demand for blue razors, rather than gender bias.

Small businesses are also doing their part to end the pink tax, from dry-cleaners who charge the same to launder men and women’s clothing, and salons which offer gender-neutral pricing on haircuts.

And across the pond in the US, a precedent-setting bill has been introduced to Ohio state legislature that would eliminate the pink tax and the “luxury” tax placed on feminine hygiene products, which currently brings in around $4 million in that state alone.

“Continuing to nickel-and-dime women adds up, especially for minimum wage workers who will lose an even greater proportion of weekly earnings to this unfair state tax,” says State Rep. Brigid Kelly. “This unfair tax ultimately means women have less money to save for their future and things like car repairs, medical costs and childcare.”

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