ActionAid Ghana will today join the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and partner organisations in countries around the world taking part in the #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights Global Days of Action.
This campaign starts on International Women’s Day (March 8th) and continues through to the end of the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women intergovernmental meeting.
The leaked Panama Papers, LuxLeaks and Swiss Leaks have revealed the scale of the global scandal of tax dodging, but governments have done little to rectify the situation. From New York to Accra to Kathmandu, women, girls and their allies will be holding rallies, speaking tours, symposiums, feminist festivals and marches, calling on governments to fulfill their commitment to securing women’s rights and economic equality by taking action for tax justice.
Tax, public services and women’s rights
“We’ve joined this campaign because the rights of women and girls around the world are being threatened by discriminatory global, regional and national tax policies. In our country, current laws and practices enable multinational corporations and the very rich to, in many cases, get away with not paying their fair share of tax. This denies government budget of a key source of funding for public services, such as healthcare, education and clean water, which is critical to realising women’s rights and gender equality.”
Globally, tax avoidance and tax breaks to big businesses cost developing countries hundreds of billions of US dollars every year – that could go a long way to transforming the lives of women and girls around the world.
Every year, Ghana loses $2.27Billion in tax incentives granted to multinational companies who invest in the country. These monies could have been used to fund public services such as the establishment of pre-school facilities to reduce the burden of child care and create opportunities for women in rural and urban areas to participate in economic activities.
Tax justice is vital to providing public services that can help reduce or respond to violence against women and girls, provide universal access to public healthcare, ensure more girls get a quality public education, and support women’s economic equality and reduce their unpaid care work.
Tax injustice is sexist
Women account for the majority of the world’s poor. In addition to being disproportionately harmful to women and girls, current tax policies are also generally not beneficial to women. The majority of the ‘savings’ that are made when countries cut personal income tax, or do not tax income from investments, provide tax breaks to multinational corporations, or turn a blind eye to tax avoidance and evasion, are made by men.
Our country has implemented or raised the rates of tax on consumer goods to compensate for revenues lost through cuts to tax rates for corporations and the wealthy elite. This places an unfair tax burden on women as they spend a larger portion of their income to buy basic goods.
Holding governments to account
Ghana has committed to protect women’s rights and advance gender equality under the UN Sustainable Development Goals and international conventions.
Organisations participating in the #Tax Justice for Women’s Rights Global Days of Action are putting forth a number of recommendations at the regional and global level, including the establishment of an inclusive intergovernmental UN Global Tax Body where all countries have a seat at the table and equal say in determining international tax rules – as opposed to the situation today where the global rules are written by an exclusive club of rich countries.
In Ghana, we are calling for government to:
- Maximise available resources to invest in quality, gender-responsive public services, the care economy, and social protection.
- Practice gender budgeting – raise and spend in ways that promote gender equality; reform tax laws so that they do not discriminate against women; ensure women have an equal say in how public money is spent.
- Raise taxes in the most progressive way possible – direct taxation of income, wealth, and high net worth individuals, and ensure multinational corporations pay their share.
- Carry out tax impact assessments – especially impact on the poorest women.
- Ensure that national and regional tax and financial secrecy policies do not contribute to large-scale tax abuse in other countries or are biased towards wealthy countries, corporations, and the wealthy elite.
- Support the establishment of an inclusive intergovernmental UN Global Tax Body.
Story by the Business Desk