Labour MPs yesterday initiated a debate in parliament on what is known as gender pricing, or the ‘pink tax’. It may sound unbelievable but research has uncovered a widespread practice of retailers charging a different price for the same consumer goods or services on the basis of gender. The Times found price differences across a range of items, with those marketed at women 37% more expensive on average compared to those marketed at men.
Examples of products which are more expensive when targeted at a female market include clothing, razors, pens and toys. Boots has today announced a review of some of its products, following calls from Labour MPs and feminist campaigners.
The gender pay gap in the EU stands at sixteen per cent. In the UK, it is even higher at just under twenty per cent. It is therefore extremely worrying that women seem to be penalised when purchasing products. Over the course of a lifetime, these additional costs become very significant.
Governments should be working closely with retailers and manufacturers to establish why almost identical products are marketed to women at a higher price. If there is no discernible difference between the products, we have to ask why they are being presented as suitable for only one gender. Misleading people in this way is a matter of both gender equality and consumer protection.
The European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, which I am a member of, will also be looking at the issue of gender inequality in taxation in the coming months. I will call for robust research into unequal gender pricing and, where necessary, action to root out unfair or discriminatory practices.