Why Tax is a Feminist Issue

  • Date: 09/03/2016
  • Author: Olivia Lally

Tax pays for public services that meet women’s rights

Why tax is a feminist issue? All over the world women are more vulnerable to poverty than men and this is especially true in developing countries, but this year the women of Heliopolis in Sao Paulo, Brazil were celebrating. Their streets have more lights, helping all residents, especially women, to return to their homes safely at night. Their victory was secured following intense campaigning for safe cities for women, especially through their highly visible night-time flashlight march demanding public lighting.

Jaqueline, studying at college, explained: “If I attend college in two years I can get do what I like, which is working with children. I’m only afraid of the way I have to walk to college, because it is very dark. The fear has never stopped me going to class because I have a major goal. But I go all my way praying, asking God to protect me, because I am afraid of being robbed and raped.”

 Across the world, up to 70% of all women will experience violence in their lifetime. Poor women in developing countries are the most likely to be exposed to sexual violence on the streets. Women-friendly public services, like policing, public toilets and street-lighting can help keep women safer.

But where will the money come from?

Whether you want to: stop violence against women and girls; make cities safe for women; ensure more girls get a quality public education; or support women’s economic equality and reduce their unpaid care work – it needs adequate funds.

But where will the money come from? Too often governments point to empty budgets. But simple reforms in tax policy could provide many more public resources.

Unfair tax systems making it worse for women, ensuring tax is a feminist issue

Right now global and national economies and tax systems are not working for women and it is making the world more unequal.

Right now many big companies not paying their fair share of tax. The IMF estimates that developing countries lose an astonishing $200 billion US dollars to tax dodging every year. Imagine how transformative this money could be in the lives of women and girls if spent wisely on public services! This money is enough to:

  • Provide a primary school education for every child – including the 57 million children who currently don’t go to school
  • AND provide the agricultural investment needed to achieve a world free from hunger,
  • AND meet international goals to reduce ill health more than twice over (USD 58.9 billion), protecting vulnerable people from infectious diseases and ensuring women and children have access to healthcare.

What we want

We want women and girls to be able to hold governments accountable for tax to be fairly raised, to demand multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, & that it is fairly spent on gender-responsive public services.

Join us during this 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, to demand that multinational companies pay their fair share of tax for women’s rights! Sign up for email updates here or email olivia.lally@actionaid.org if you would like to join a training on tax and women’s rights and to learn more about why tax is a feminist issue.

Blog adapted from original by Bridget Burrows, available here to download


ActionAid Ireland’s Tax Power campaign is funded by the European Union through Development Education and Awareness Raising funding, April 2015 to April 2017.


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