The Paradise Papers, a leak of 13.4m files which reveal the vast extent to which the world's richest people and corporations hold money in UK-linked tax havens, have made headlines around the world this week. Tax avoidance affects us all, by draining money from essential public services. But women and girls - especially those in developing countries - are hit the hardest. Read on to find out why tax is a feminist issue.
Tax avoidance means less money for healthcare
If hospitals don’t have the resources they need, it is women and girls that are most likely to be left caring for the sick because women usually take on the vast burden of unpaid care in families.
It’s estimated that one in three women will face violence in her lifetime. It is one of the most widespread human rights abuses, from domestic violence to female genital mutilation and rape. The violation of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights puts women at risk of sexually transmitted infections and complications from unsafe abortion and childbirth — all of which are potentially fatal without access to medical treatment.
Tax avoidance means less money for education
When schools charge school fees because they aren’t properly funded, it is girls that are the first to drop out. Around the world, 263 million children are still out of school — and twice as many girls as boys will never even start school.
This has a huge impact on girls’ lives. Every year a girl is in school is estimated to increase her earning power by 20 percent. Girls who have had seven years of education will marry five years later than uneducated girls on average. Increasingly more and more communities are recognising the importance of sending their daughters to school, but if fees are expensive – it is often girls’ education that is sacrificed.
Tax avoidance means less money for safe cities
If governments don’t have enough money to invest in public services like policing, public transport, street-lighting and support services for survivors of abuse, women will face an increased risk of violence and harassment and not be able to participate as equal citizens of society.
Boost transparency to create a fair tax system
It’s estimated that tax avoidance could cost developing countries US$200 billion a year. ActionAid wants to see a fair global tax system — and to achieve this, the UK Government must use their power to boost transparency. They should ensure that companies publicly reveal the amount of profit they make and tax they pay in each country where they do business, and that UK-linked tax havens introduce public registers of the companies they host.
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Photo credits: Tom Saater/ActionAid, Arthur Maringani/ActionAid