The COVID-19-triggered crisis is exacerbating pre-existing structural inequalities, including gender inequality
Women experiencing multiple and intersecting discriminations – including those living in poverty or who are marginalised based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, income, education, nationality or migration status – are those who bear the worst brunt of any crises. And it is not different now: The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a crisis of multiple dimensions that is causing unprecedented and devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods around the world, especially in the Global South. It has hit women the hardest because they make up the majority of unpaid care and precarious, low-paid and domestic work. The unbalanced response to the crisis is undermining the opportunity for all people to realise their human rights.
- Women make up almost 70% of the health care workforce, being exposed to a greater risk of COVID-19 infection, while they are often under-paid and overworked.
- They also shoulder much of the burden at home, given school and childcare facility closures and longstanding gender inequalities in unpaid care work.
- They are more likely to lose their job and income, and face increased risks of violence, exploitation, abuse and harassment during this time of crisis and quarantine.
And yet, the response and recovery measures to the current pandemic are blind to women’s needs and revolve around extending and expanding tax incentives, cutting corporate tax rates and different forms of bailouts that are justified as being key measures to keep the economy going. For many countries, austerity measures and budget cuts are back in place, reducing the resources available for public services that should be in place to ensure women’s rights.
We believe that the policy responses so far are shaping up to be mostly debt-financed, corporate-driven and unresponsive to gender dimensions – ignoring human rights obligations and anti-discrimination law under Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). They are not prioritising public health, social protection and other human rights in rebuilding just and sustainable societies and economies.
It is more urgent than ever to make taxes work for women
Even though challenges may differ from region to region, there are clearly linked patterns and trends, especially in terms of tax issues, such as: the global dominance in tax rule-making institutions based in the Global North, led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the impunity of large corporations in profit-shifting and illicit financial flows; the bailouts of corporations during the COVID-triggered crisis; and the raising of revenues for COVID-19 responses through regressive means.
Together with our regional networks − Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA), Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA), Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe (RJFALC), Tax Justice Europe (TJ-E), FACT Coalition and Canadians for Tax Fairness – and our Tax & Gender Working Group members, we are joining hands to shed light on alternatives to the current economic model that would enable progressive feminist approaches and tax justice agendas to thrive at different levels (nationally, regionally and globally), and call on multilateral institutions and national governments to build back a rights-based and gender-equal economy.
Join our 5th annual Global Days of Action on Tax Justice for Women’s Rights and help us resonate our message and advance towards gender equality!
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