MEP Mussolini hands sanitary pad to Italy’s EU commissioner
Dictator’s granddaughter campaigns to reduce taxes on women’s hygiene products.
BRUSSELS — Forza Italia MEP Alessandra Mussolini on Wednesday gave Italy’s EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni a red-marked sanitary pad with his name on it and the inscription “VAT 0%.”
Mussolini’s protest was aimed at eliminating value-added (or sales) tax on feminine hygiene products — something that nearly all EU countries impose.
"Happy Women’s Day," Mussolini — the granddaughter of Italy’s wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini — told Gentiloni as she handed him the pad "with wings" because they "cost more.” It came at the end of a European Commission press conference on 2024 national budget guidelines, and coincided with International Women’s Day.
"As a delegation of Forza Italia, we ask for 0 percent taxation on sanitary pads, paid menstrual leave and the harmonization in all member states of the rules concerning health rights and gender equality," Mussolini told cameras in front of a table with several feminine hygiene products displayed on it.
Levies on hygiene products are one of the most controversial of the EU’s tax regime. By law, countries cannot reduce VAT to below 5 percent. The issue became part of the Brexit debate when the U.K. pressed for an exception before it left the bloc.
Mussolini was returned to the European Parliament in November 2022, taking up the European People’s Party’s seat vacated by Antonio Tajani, having previously served in two spells from 2004.
In recent years she has surprised Italy’s public by showing support for progressive causes, such as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights both in Italy and in the EU.