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Justicia Fiscal

Tax systems and their role in promoting equal development for all

Imagen: revista AnfibiaImagen: revista Anfibia

By: Klelia Guerrero García

Gender and Tax Justice Specialist at the Latin American Network for Social and Economic Justice – Latindadd

For the world to achieve fair, effective, transparent, and inclusive realities, it is urgent and essential that such principles also lead the international tax cooperation mechanisms and regulatory frameworks. In the middle of the poly crisis humanity continues to face, it is time to recognize the impact of tax systems (and their resulting resources) to achieve justice in all its dimensions: economic, social, political, cultural, racial, and environmental, among others. 

Gender justice is not the exception. The world recognized that when SDG 5 was raised but has done little to accomplish it. The official deadline is 2030, but at the current rate of “improvement”, it will take us 286 years to close the current legal protection gaps and remove discriminatory laws. Thus, governments and their fiscal actions must pioneer schemes that restore the historically stolen opportunities to women – and other identity minorities. As such, the UNTC Terms of Reference (TOR) should be active in the purpose of ending all forms of discrimination, violence, and any harmful practices against women and girls in the world.

Currently, most women and men are supposedly taxed under the same rules. However, the structure of tax systems and the sexual distribution of work generate economic dynamics that make taxes cause differential impacts on us, through both explicit and implicit gender biases. Thus, we urge country leaders to promote a gender approach alongside other structural changes suggested for a global fiscal body led by the United Nations. This is presented with more detail in a joint submission presented by a group of gender and tax advocates.

The cruciality of this need was particularly highlighted during the pandemic. At that time, women needed the world as much as it relied on us to provide care: quarantines allowed for domestic violence to be five-fold, and the caregiving workload significantly increased. Sure, there were “actions” from the public sphere to mitigate this (1000+ reported interventions), but these only represented 15% of the total Covid-19 expenditure. Therefore, we need fiscal policies that provide enough resources to respond to these issues and demand a gender approach on their use, so that men and women can equally enjoy our rights. 

Fiscal systems can and should guide our countries toward more human and responsible labor markets. Public interventions need sustained and sufficient resources to ensure workers in all their diversity are compensated with decent conditions and minimum guarantees. Fiscal systems, with their power for resource mobilization and behavioral guidance, are crucial for countries to address the unjust social organization that assigns domestic and care work to women (unfairly remunerated, at best, unpaid for the majority), recognizing that the functioning of our societies depends on it.

Our fiscal systems must start leading the correction of these gaps, externalities, and social inefficiencies regarding gender discrimination. Otherwise, the world risks losing the conquers achieved through years of combating women’s systematic exclusion.

We recommend that UNTC champions global tax measures sensitive to gender inequalities and promotes regulatory frameworks recognizing women in all our diversity. Likewise, we recommend adopting intersectional strategies that respond to our specific needs, focusing particularly on the feminization of time and economic poverty. 
Reaching fairer realities and equal development for all requires coherence and commitment from global tax policies and systems. The UNTC process and the resulting TOR cannot disregard its responsibility to eliminate gender discrimination and promote affirmative measures that drive the world toward an appropriate distribution of economic power between men and women. It is time for the global tax system to acknowledge its role in providing opportunities for women of present and future generations to see our dreams of an inclusive and life-centered world materialize.