SA: Tax Injustice Increasing Gender Inequalities.

SA: Tax Injustice Increasing Gender Inequalities.

Date: June 12, 2018
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By Sandiswa Manana

Johannesburg, 12 June: Tax injustice is increasingly becoming a burden for women. This is because women make up the primary group affected by poverty, violence, illiteracy, unemployment, and health problems, to name a few. Therefore, tax injustice becomes an addition to their strain.

Tax can be outlined as the key building block of societies. It is one of the most powerful tools that can be used to reduce the inequality gap between rich and poor, and between men and women.

Equality is being undermined through tax avoidance and evasion, in which some individuals within the society choose to abandon their societal responsibilities at the expense of others and that becomes a strain to some other people who find it hard to make means of living. Inequality may reach a point that some people can no longer meet basic needs to live and that comes as a threat to human rights.

Tax justice is highly recognised as a feminist issue. According to a presentation by Caroline Othim on the Where Is the Money webinar, monitored by Crystal Simeoni, tax justice is a key to ending poverty, inequality and climate change. Tax justice means the fairer system for taxing. The increase in tax has a major effect on women, especially ordinary women who are trying so hard to go through a day with the little that they have. Hence, tax justice could liberate women to be able to sustain themselves and their families.

Africa has adequate resources which could help sustain its growing population. However due to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), which could be explained as money that is earned, transferred or utilized illegally, Africa lose large sums of money. Africa is estimated to have lost about one trillion dollars in IFFs. Those that are rich become richer, and the poor becomes poorer because of the IFFs. . Illicit financial flows, disproportionately affect women as countries lose out on resources that could be invested in supporting the lives of ordinary citizens.

Poverty hits women the most since they strive to care for everyone within their families, and ensure sustainability within the households. IFFs increase risk and uncertainty in the domestic economy, discouraging investment and its potential positive effect on poverty reduction. With that being mentioned, women still suffer the most when it comes to gender-based violence (GBV). Their rights as human beings are being violated the most, since IFFs leave women to fend for themselves, and they mostly overlook at the household basic needs which becomes harder if they are poor.

Moreover, poor women in impoverished areas tend to suffer the most when it comes to climate change. For instance, when there is drought hitting the area, women and young girls would walk a couple of kilometres to get water for the whole household to use. In fact, due to climate change food prices fluctuate as well and poor people suffer an economic imbalance. It becomes very hard to maintain a good standard of living with less income and altering market prices when you receive no basic monthly salary.

In Africa many women are likely to become and remain unemployed, because they are mostly uneducated. When they get jobs, it is likely that they accept low paying jobs, mainly to sustain

their families. Those that are educated are by-passed by men for higher positions because women are considered to be ‘emotional and thus are not deserving of higher positions’. Such cases put women in critical positions when it comes to tax injustice and it violates their rights as human beings, looking at how they struggle to make a living in such a costly society.

Taxes are the most sustainable source of government revenues that pay for the vast majority of public services that societies rely on and governments now need to progressively raise and spend more resources on the work and services that women need. The governments need to carry out gender and inequality assessment before they raise taxes. The raise in tax should be done in a progressive manner, considering all stakes at hand.

Poor people should not be suppressed by tax injustice. This is because a major gap between the rich and the poor can intensify and be a negative impact in the country’s economy. Poverty alleviation could never be attained until tax justice is attained. Addressing tax injustice and IFFs issue is critical in efforts to combat gender inequality.

Photo: courtesy of Tax Justice Network

Sandiswa Manana is the Alliance and Partnerships Intern at Gender Links. This story is part of the GL News and Blogs.

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