Speaking out for #TaxJustice at the #UNCSW63

Published on 
03/22/2019

As the curtain closes on the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), the growing #TaxJustice movement is hoping to have #TaxJustice strongly included the final Agreed Conclusions.

As the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, and with this year’s priority theme being “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”, we know women deserve to have progressive taxation, combating Illicit Financial Flows and taking measures to address tax evasion and avoidance in the final agreed conclusions of the UNCSW.

We know there is still a strong narrative from International Financial Institutions on the privatization of public services, social protections and infrastructures to the detriment of the poor, especially women.

This is why, once more year, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice occupied the UNCSW, held in New York, to strengthen the #TaxJustice voice within the UNCSW and prove that #TaxJustice can ensure #WomensRights and #GenderEquality.

For this 63rd session, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice sponsored two parallel events, at the Church Center for the United Nations, with numerous partners

  • The first event, titled « SHIFTING THE NARRATIVE: Financing Women’s Rights through” was held on March 13, with the objective to “reassert the importance for governments to explore financing models that are truly transformative, address inequalities and advance gender and economic justice”.

The panel, which was moderated by Caroline Othim, Global Policy and Campaigns Coordinator Africa & Co-convener of the GATJ Tax and Gender Working Group, included the following speakers:

  • Elaine Zuckerman, President and Founder of Gender Action
  • Corina Rodriguez Enriquez, a Feminist Economist and Executive Committee Member of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
  • Jeannie Nacpil Manipon, of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
  • Juneia Batista, Head of the National Women’s Secretariat of the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT)
  • Wangari Kinoti, International Policy Advisor for Women’s Rights, Action Aid International.

The event counted with introductory remarks by Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International, the global union federation for public sector trade unions and concluded with comments from the audience, the first of which coming from Irene Ovonji-Odida, a Ugandan lawyer, politician, and women's rights activist who recently joined GATJ’s partner ICRICT, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation.

This event was co-sponsored by ActionAid, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Bretton Woods Project, Christian Aid, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Gender and Development Network, Public Services International (PSI), Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA), Tax Justice Network (TJN) and Womankind Worldwide.

  • The second event, titled « TAXING FOR GENDER EQUALITY: Evaluating gender & intersectional effects of tax laws”, was held on March 15th, and was co-sponsored by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Queen’s university of Law (Canada), the Tax Justice Network and Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DANW).

The panel, which was also moderated by Caroline Othim, included the following speakers:

  • Corina Rodriguez Enriquez as well,
  • Nguyen Phuong Thuy, Policy and Campaign Manager at ActionAid Vietnam and co-chair of TAFJA’s Women and Gender Working Group
  • Yamini Mishra, Director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Programme at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat
  • Vanessa van den Boogaard, Research Associate at the International Centre for Tax and Development
  • Francesca Rhodes, Gender Policy Advisor at Oxfam UK and Member of GADN’s Advisory Group.
  • Isolde Kunkel-Weber, President of the European Public Services Union (EPSU)
  • Kathleen Lahey, Professor and Queen’s National Scholar at the Faculty of Law, Queen’s University.

You can download the visuals with quotes from these two events in English here.

You can also find Vanessa Van Den Boogaard’s presentation on ICTD website.

The Global Alliance for Tax Justice also seized two opportunities to speak out for #TaxJustice in the UNCSW space:

  • On March 15th, Kate Donald, Director of the Economic and Social Policy program at the Center for Economic and Social Rights, was able to represent the #TaxJustice concerns at the Interactive expert panel titled 'Harnessing synergies and securing financing'.

In her statement, which you can download here, Kate Donald addressed the “elephant in the room”: “the current international tax system and illicit financial flows, including corporate tax abuses. This system and these practices are devastating to women, especially in poorer countries - but they continue to be propped up and facilitated by rich countries (many of whom preside over tax havens) and the IFIs”, Kate Donald said.

Kate Donald had applied to speak as one of the civil society responses/statements (through UN Women who administer and approve the speakers' list for CSW). After her address, Kate asked the panel: “Where do we find the political will at the global level – for example here at the UN - to take on these systemic issues? Are the recent moves by the OECD, IMF and others to rethink the rules of international corporate taxation a step in the right direction?”

Several of the panelists replied directly to Kate’s point, agreeing that the global tax rules and system were very important to address.

  • GATJ has also been selected to present an oral statement during the “General Discussions”, which was delivered by Caroline Othim, GATJ’s global coordinator of campaigns and policy for Africa, on March 19th, on behalf of GATJ and its partners.

“There is a desperate need for governments to step up, Othim said, and explore financing models that are truly transformative, address inequalities and advance gender and economic justice.”

“But where is the money?” She asked.

“Empirical evidence is crystal clear: nations continue to bleed massively through illicit financial flows when the wealthy and multinational companies use highly sophisticated tax planning methods to reduce their tax burden and stash resources in offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions depriving governments the needed resources to fund public services and social protections.”

Caroline Othim closed her statement by reaffirming our global demands: “We demand that the CSW63 final resolution impel governments to:

  1. Endorse the establishment of a truly representative, intergovernmental tax body under the auspices of the UN.
  2. End tax abuses by MNCs and the wealthy and combat illicit financial flows.
  3. Recognize tax as a feminist issue and progressively raise domestic revenue to invest in the gender-responsive public services, social protections and infrastructure.
  4. Ensure that tax and fiscal policies are designed and implement to recognize, represent, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work”.

You can find the video of the oral statement here, and a written transcript of the statement here in English, here in Spanish and here in French.

Share on Facebook Tweet this Email Print Share