Last night the bill brought to the House of Commons by Paula Sherriff MP to scrap Tax on Tampons, which she dubbed the Vagina Added Tax, was defeated.
Liz McInnes MP tweeted:
"Sadly, we have lost the #tampontax debate AYES 287 NOES 305."
Many people on Twitter were outraged:
It is shameful that there is a tax on tampons and sanitary towels, which are categorized as a "luxury", whereas jaffa cakes, pitta bread and razors are not.
Supporters of the amendment wanted the UK government to press the EU to remove VAT on sanitary products and label them as a 'necessity' rather than a 'luxury' .
As Paula Sherriff MP said:
"A tax system that lets you dine on crocodile steak on your private jet without paying a penny, when we can't survive a period without the Treasury taxing us for it, cannot be a fair one. Periods are a fact of life and it's not like women have a choice."
Laura Coryton's 250,000 strong petition on Change.org ensured that Parliament addressed this and, even if the motion was defeated, "Ministers have confirmed they will make efforts to scrap the 5% VAT rate on tampons".
"Tampongate" says it all. It is a clear example of a subject that is relevant and familiar to women but which sometimes men might even struggle to communicate about.
Tax on Tampons is the tip of the iceberg!
There are many important issues about which women are more knowledgeable, such as domestic violence, FGM, discrimination and maternity care. But it is not just these issues that matter to women, they should be equally involved in drafting policy in all areas including the economy, energy, defence, foreign affairs, environment, transport, health, education and parenting. Women are 51% of the UK's population, 51% of the UK's life experience, talent and skills. Women make a massive contribution to society with their paid and unpaid work.
Women are a majority in life but a minority in Parliament. 7 out of 10 MPs are men. Men outnumber women by more than 2:1 in the Commons. There are still more men in the House of Commons than there have ever been women MPs. The Lords is worse, there the men outnumber the women 3:1.
We need more women at Westminster because representation shapes the policies.
Professor Joni Lovenduski from Birkbeck, University of London, writes " Evidence from more balanced legislatures than ours shows that men can act for women, but they may be more likely to do so when there are more women around."
Women, both in and outside Parliament, are finding their voice. In the last few days, women Parliamentarians have been leading the way on the revolt concerning Tax Credits, causing the Government to rethink. Baroness Hollis' powerful speech in the House of Lords has really made an impact.
More women in Parliament will better reflect society and bring benefits to both men and women.
As Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in the Commons put it:
"I wanted the world to get better and I knew that it couldn't get better if it was going to be ruled by men...alone."
50:50 Parliament is an inclusive, cross-party movement of over 40,000 people across the UK who are asking all Party Leaders for solutions to get better gender balance at Westminster. The Suffragette movement started with the 1866 Suffrage Petition and Carey Mulligan, star of the Suffragette film, demonstrated support for 50:50 Parliament by enthusiastically posing for photographs with a campaign placard on the red carpet at the film premiere.
If you want more women MPs and Peers at Westminster then say so and sign change.org/5050Parliament.