International Women’s Day: tax justice is a feminist issue, every day.

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Women’s Budget Group (UK): showing how gender issues can be addressed

International Women’s Day: Tax Justice is a feminist issue, every day.

By Liz Nelson

On International Women’s Day, let’s remember that tax justice is a feminist issue – every day. We’d like to use today to signal some significant milestones and forthcoming opportunities for understanding and addressing the gendered impacts of tax abuse. There is now some significant move in this area.

In 2014 a new network emerged, Women for Tax JusticeIn  our Tax Justice Focus edition (April, 2015) on gender  Mae Buenaventura quantified the gender impact of tax dodging by multinationals in Asia. She also reminded us of a ‘weather changing’ report  in 2014 by Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, which highlighted the importance of adopting progressive tax policies to address poverty,  inequality, discrimination. 

Mae’s article also calls out existing  human rights treaties which can offer ‘a critical tool that States can employ to comply with their international human rights obligations’, not least the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  In that same edition Kathleen Lahey notes that

‘Taxing for sex equality involves two vital steps. First, no jurisdiction should enact any new tax or spending laws, programs, or practices that increase market or after-tax income gender gaps. Second, the negative gender effects of all existing tax, spending, and other fiscal laws should be corrected as a matter of urgency.’   

Yesterday in collaboration with CESR, NYU School of Law and Berne Declaration, we presented members of CEDAW with a list of questions  which the Swiss government need to be asked about how they intend to rectify legislative and policy deficits which run counter to CEDAW i.e. using

‘all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women’ and by adopting ‘appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women’ (Article 2).  

Later this year in October we hope to hear how Switzerland will respond to the CEDAW Committee.

In April we host our annual discussion workshop  on Corruption and the role of tax havens.  Pooja Rangaprasad (Financial Transparency Coalition) will lead a discussion to examine Gender Implications of Illicit Financial Flows, and  Verónica Grondona (CEFID-AR), Nicole Bidegain Ponte and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez (both DAWN) unpick the role of financial secrecy jurisdictions in undermining gender justice and women’s human rights.

There’s much to discuss.

We’re not the only ones who think tax is a feminist issue – ActionAid think so and Women for Tax Justice explain how they see  tax as is a feminist issue.  And if you haven’t read it, take a look at our previous blog, looking at the impact of top rate income tax cuts on women in the UK. 

See also

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