Teachers and Tampons: why taxes matter for women

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Today is World Public Service Day. Around the world, governments and citizens are marking the contribution of public servants to our communities. And next week, our government will also be removing the GST from tampons across Canada.

In one case, we’re getting rid of a bad tax, which was sex-based and discriminatory. In the other, we’re celebrating the positive impact that our tax dollars can make – paying for healthcare and education in this country. In both – tax is a feminist issue.

Oxfam supports progressive taxation to reduce inequality – between men and women, and between the rich and the poor. We want quality universal education, health care, and important social services – like federally funded childcare. These all pay a double dividend for women, bridging an economic gap, and addressing the unpaid care work for which women are still predominantly responsible.

We’re working with women’s organizations to make sure that in this next election all parties speak to how their policies will build a better Canada that works for women. Oxfam works all around the world, supporting grassroots organizations to advocate for policies and programs that meet the needs of the poor. The call for investment in public services is not just being heard here in Canada, but around the world.

In Pakistan, “low-fee” private schools are becoming the norm. If you are amongst the poorest 20% of families in Pakistan, sending your children to school would cost 127% of your total household income. Families have to choose which children to invest in, and it is most often girls who lose out. Girls missing out on education severely limits their social mobility and independence from an early age. Universal free public education is fundamentally important: it empowers women.

The problem is that poor countries don’t have the same tax base as Canada. Much of their potential tax revenue is lost to global tax havens and through tax avoidance schemes by multinational companies. Companies and wealthy elites are not paying their fair share – and the biggest impact is on women and girls living in poverty.

This is why Oxfam is calling for a new set of global tax rules. Rules made and enforced by all countries. We’re not alone – there’s a huge movement of advocates, from hip hop stars in Senegal to trade unionists in Canada. Today they’re standing up in support of #TaxJustice and the need to #MakeTaxFair. Join them if you can.

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