<em>International Womens Day, 2023</em><br>To Strengthen Women’s Resilience to Disasters, Make Wealthiest Pay Their Fair Share

  • Opinion by Magdalena Sepulveda (gene, switzerland)
  • Associated Press Service

She gave birth just hours after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on the night of February 6, 2023. Like her, more than 50,000 people died in the earthquake. Tragic as hoped, this story has moved the international media.

It also reminds us that the more than 350,000 pregnant women who survived the earthquake are now in dire need of health care, according to the United Nations. And this is just one aspect of women’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

Floods, droughts, earthquakes and other extreme events regardless of gender, especially in developing countries. Evidence shows that women and girls die in greater numbers and have different and uneven levels of resilience and resilience.

For example, of the 230,000 people killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 70% were women. Because of the gender barrier, boys often have fewer survival skills: boys are taught to swim or read first. This makes it difficult for them to access early warnings or locate safe havens.

In addition, it is more difficult for women to escape danger, as they are often responsible for taking care of children, the elderly and the sick. Increased stress and fear, as well as loss of income caused by natural disasters, increase domestic violence against women and girls.

They are also the first victims of violence and sexual exploitation as the entire population is displaced – this is one of the first concerns in Pakistan as more than 8 million people have been displaced from their homes by the devastating floods. terrible in June-August 2022.

Natural disasters negatively affect everyone economically, but women and girls are affected more. World Bank data show that female farmers are more disadvantaged than men in rural areas.

Assigned to household chores, they are more dependent than men on access to natural resources and are therefore the first to suffer when these resources become scarce. . In all regions, food insecurity is higher among women than men.

By 2020, it is estimated that nearly 60% of the hungry are women and girls, and since then the gender gap has only widened. Their lack of access to bank accounts also means that women’s assets are less protected than men’s. And, of course, the recovery from any crisis is based on societal expectations regarding gender roles. As a result, women have to bear an increased burden in the family after the disaster at the cost of missing out on other income-generating activities.

We know that on average, women spend 3.2 times more time than men in unpaid care work and the COVID-19 pandemic – another man-made natural disaster – shows clearly the extent of inequality in unpaid care and domestic work, and undervalued and unrecognized it is.

This is a major constraint on women’s access to education, hinders their participation and advancement in the paid labor market, and impedes their political participation, with serious consequences. on social protection, income and pensions. Gender inequality exacerbates the impact of disasters, and the consequences of disasters exacerbate gender inequality. An unacceptable vicious circle. With the world facing more and more climate-related tragedies, governments must take immediate and long-term action to invest in universal access to health care, water and sanitation, education, social protection and infrastructure for gender equality and full enjoyment. on women’s human rights.

Even in times of crisis, when state budgets are virtually empty, there are fair ways to increase revenue to fund the investments needed to strengthen women’s resilience: make those who profit from the crises that are ravaging the planet, including those from natural disasters, pay, on the recommendation of the Independent Commission on International Corporate Tax Reform (ICRICT), of which I am a member along with Joseph Stiglitz, Jayati Ghosh and Thomas Piketty, among others. Instead of implementing austerity programs that wreak havoc on the most disadvantaged, states can increase fiscal space by taxing more companies and the super-rich.

It started with taxing the super profits generated by multinational companies, and a number of countries in Europe and Latin America have already begun to do so.. This is especially true for the pharmaceutical giants that have made a fortune selling Covid-19 vaccines that they were able to develop with government subsidies. This is also the case with multinational companies in the energy or food sectors.

Oxfam estimates that its profits have grown more than two and a half times (256%) in 2022 compared to the 2018–2021 average. For the same reasons, it is necessary to tax the richest people, who pay almost no taxes these days..

One cannot accept that, as Oxfam reminds us, someone like Elon Musk, one of the richest men in history, is taxed at 3.3%, while Aber Christine, a businessman rice traders in Uganda, taxed at 40%.

Progressive taxes – which make the richest people and multinationals pay their fair share – are one of the most powerful tools for reducing inequality of any kind. As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, let us keep in mind that more resilient societies cannot be built without fighting for gender equality..

Continuing to ignore it is a political choice, and an even more dangerous threat to development than natural disasters themselves.

Magdalena Sepulveda is Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and a member of the Independent Commission on International Corporate Tax Reform (ICRICT). From 2008-2014, she was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights @Magda_Sepul

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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