[Op ed] It´s time for tax justice to deliver women’s rights

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12/12/2017

Caroline Othim, the Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, Africa at the Global Alliance for Tax Justice contributed an opinion editorial to the media on the occassion of the Bogota Declaration launch on 7th Dec 2017. Four media outlets published the editorial. Business DailyCitizen Tv Kenya, Daily Nation and Nairobi News.

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Picture this: you are a small scale retail trader selling your merchandise in a market where garbage has remained uncollected for as long as you can remember. The market taps have been dry for days on end and the toilets are filthy, but you still pay daily fees to the municipal council to provide services such as garbage collection and access to clean water and sanitation. In addition, you pay the regressive value added tax (VAT) on many of the goods and services that you purchase. At home, as the woman of the house you carry out household chores, help your ill mother-in-law and look after the whole family, all as unpaid care work.

Meanwhile, a large multinational corporation nearby employs highly-paid accountants and lawyers to help the company avoid paying its fair share of taxes in this country where it is doing business. The company also receives other public subsidies to help do its business, along with open access to an educated workforce, public roads and railways, water and sanitation, and justice and security services.

This scenario replicates itself daily in the lives of many women across the world, especially in the global south. This despite commitments by world leaders to increase gender equality and women’s economic empowerment by 2030 by taking the necessary measures to raise resources for the advancement of women.
It is in this context that the first ever global convening on tax justice for women’s rights was held earlier this year in Bogota, Colombia. The meeting drew together a global community of women as a united voice to advance tax justice as the most effective solution to gendered economic inequality. A diverse international movement is building to address the denial of women’s human rights as regressive tax systems continue to increase the impoverishment and marginalization of women in the global economy.

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Democratic states rely on tax revenues as the main source of funding to meet the needs and rights of their citizens. Yet, regressive consumption taxes such as the value added tax – which hurt poor people the most – are increasingly being used to fill in for tax cuts that benefit wealthy persons and corporations. Without sufficient tax revenues, governments are unable to fund universal public education, health, water, and care services, provide public social security and pensions, and thereby protect the fundamental economic and social rights of all women.

On 7 December 2017, the Bogota Declaration on Tax Justice for Women’s Rights was launched, and organizations around the world are signing on. The Declaration calls on governments to implement progressive tax policies to deliver on their human rights obligations to citizens, especially to women and girls. This includes creating gender-responsive fiscal systems, ensuring multinational corporations and wealthy individuals pay their share of taxes, and that all countries have a seat at the table to decide international tax policies through a UN global tax commission.

The 10th of December is UN Human Rights Day and the conclusion of the annual 16 days of action to end violence against women. The Global Alliance for Tax Justice and committed partners including the Public Services International global union, the Tax Justice Network, and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung foundation invite organizations to sign on and support the Bogota Declaration on Tax Justice for Women’s Rights.

For more information contact Caroline Othim

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