REWRITE THE RULES! MAKE TAXES WORK FOR WOMEN!
The campaign for tax and gender justice is one of APMDD’s priorities in its work on Development Finance. Tax and fiscal systems are embedded in deeply entrenched patriarchal systems, structures, social norms and practices. They reflect direct and indirect gender biases and assumptions – in many countries in Asia, tax systems do not recognize women as independent economic agents or as heads of households. Unpaid care work, largely borne by women, are not accounted for and are rendered invisible in tax and fiscal policies. Women, especially those from poor and marginalized sectors, take on a disproportionate share of the negative impacts of regressive and discriminatory tax and fiscal policies, and have the least voice, power and influence in decision-making on these policies. It is widely known that indirect taxes such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) or the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hurt women and the poor the most. This is because women tend to earn less and are over-represented in the informal economy, have less access to and control over land, financial resources and other productive assets necessary for their economic survival and independence. And yet women tend to spend a greater share of their income for household necessities.
Women are also exposed to multiple forms of gender-based violence at home, in the world of work and in times of natural disasters and emergencies, but have less access to public services essential to their survival and to living a life of dignity. Where public services are available, they are often inaccessible to women in marginalized communities or remote areas or are unresponsive to their specific needs and conditions. Corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flows that rob economies of revenues that could and should be used for public services negatively impact on women’s lives.
Tax and fiscal policies should not be used as instruments for reinforcing inequalities; rather, they should be transformed into tools for addressing inequalities and advancing gender justice. Women have stood and continue to stand in the frontlines of collective action for economic and gender justice, increasingly taking on tax and fiscal justice as integral to this campaign agenda.
While APMDD has been taking on tax and gender justice as part of its campaign and advocacy agenda for many years now, a more systematic campaign was launched in 2019 under the banner theme, “Make Taxes Work for Women”
The campaign objectives are :
1. Work towards reducing unfair tax burdens on women and ending discrimination in tax policies by:
- raising public awareness about regressive and discriminatory tax policies;
- building support for progressive and gender-responsive tax and fiscal policy reforms, especially policies that serve to represent, recognize, redistribute and reduce unpaid care work;
- campaigning for increased allocation of tax revenues for quality, gender-responsive public services.
2. Expose the flaws of domestic and international tax systems and policies that enable corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flaws, and work towards policy, institutional and structural changes in support of progressive and just taxation by:
- Raising public awareness about corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flows and their gendered impacts and implications for women’s human rights;
- Increasing the visibility of ‘tax and gender’ policy recommendations and feminist articulations recommendations in national, regional and global platforms; and
- Building support for the establishment of transparent and democratic intergovernmental tax commission with sufficient resources under the United Nations, to ensure that all countries can participate on a truly equal footing in the decision-making on global tax rules.
3. Build the power of activists around the world to campaign against gender discrimination and tax injustice, and urge the public and the women’s movements to take on tax justice issues as an integral part of the struggle for women’s rights and economic empowerment.
- Increase and strengthen women’s participation and leadership, especially from the grassroots, in movements for tax and economic justice;
- Strengthen capacities of social movements, grassroots organisations, and other CSOs to campaign against gender discrimination and tax injustice;
- Build and strengthen a core of women leaders from among grassroots organisations, social movements and other CSOs who will advance and sharpen feminist analyses and articulations, and help sustain the work around tax and gender justice;
- Mobilize gender champions in parliament and academia, and build support from decision makers.
Reduce unfair tax burdens on women
Remove gender biases and discriminatory provisions in tax and fiscal policies
Recognize, represent, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work
Increase tax allocation for quality, gender-responsive public services
Stop corporate tax abuses, stop illicit financial flows (IFFs). Establish an inclusive, democratic, transparent and equitable inter-governmental mechanism for tax cooperation under the auspices of the United Nations
Key Activities in the Campaign on Tax, Women’s Rights and Gender Justice (2021-2022)
Organizing and Country Consultations
Focus will be on setting up and consolidating a Campaign Committee and continuing regional and country consultations to develop campaigns and support country activities.
This involves mainly orientation sessions on Framing Feminist Taxation and Campaign and Advocacy Training, including legislative/policy advocacy and communications training.
Key advocacy moments include
Asian Women’s Day, 8 August, initiated by APMDD in 2019;
“16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” – 16 Nov-10 December;
Women’s Month, International Women’s Day (March 8);
Global Days of Action to “Make Taxes Work for Women”;
and, the UN Commission on the Status of Women session in March.
There are also social media actions and activities such as 8for8, our social media campaign with theTAFJA Tax and Gender Group every 8th of the month to bring attention to our demands for tax and gender justice and “Our Stories”, a comic strip created with young female artists.
Situation and issue analysis on “’Burdens’, Biases, and Budgets”
‘Burdens’ – Gathering data and information to monitor the situation of women and analyze the multiple burden of women, through an economic and gender justice lens, looking at multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination (e.g. women’s social and economic situation, including health and care work, exposure to multiple forms of violence especially economic violence; access to public services)
‘Biases’ – Surfacing, identifying, analyzing direct and indirect biases in tax policies (e.g. impacts and implications of regressive tax policies like VAT/GST; discriminatory policies)
‘Budgets’ – Data gathering, monitoring, analysing national (or local) budgets and fiscal policy in general through the lens of tax and gender justice; e.g. public spending for health (particularly women’s health); care work; and. how gender-responsive are national and local budgets, including looking at women’s participation and influence in decision-making on budgets.
Tax, Illicit Financial Flows and Inequalities
Engaging Parliamentarians and Mobilizing Women Parliamentarians
APMDD will engage parliamentary groups and women parliamentarians to advocate for the institutional adoption of tax and gender justice in their legislative programs and priorities. Progressive tax reforms to be supported include the elimination of value added taxes, introduction of wealth taxes, and, implementation of tax incentives reviews.