• Opinion by Magdalena Sepulveda (geneva, switzerland)
  • Monday, March 6, 2023
  • Inter Press Service

Within hours of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria, on February 6, 2023, she had given birth. Over 50,000 people also died in the earthquake. This story, as tragic and hopeful as it is, has moved international media.

It reminds us, too, that more than 350,000 pregnant mothers who survived the earthquake need urgent access to medical care. This is only one aspect that shows women’s vulnerability to natural catastrophes.

Extreme events such as floods, droughts and earthquakes are not gender neutral, particularly in developing countries. Evidence has shown that both men and women die more frequently and have different levels and capacities to recover.

70% of the 230,000 victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami were women. They often lack survival skills due to gender barriers. Boys are taught to swim and read first. It is difficult for them access safe shelters and early warnings.

Women are more vulnerable than men to danger because they often care for elderly people, children and the sick. Domestic violence is on the rise against women and girls due to increased tensions and fear and loss of income from disasters.

They are also the first victims to sexual violence and exploitation when whole populations are displaced. This is a concern in Pakistan where over 8 million people were forced from their homes by the floods that struck June-August 2022.

All economic losses are caused by natural catastrophes, but girls and women are more severely affected than the rest. Data from the World Bank shows that rural farmers in rural areas suffer more from female farmers than those who live in urban areas.

Women are more dependent than men for natural resources, and they are the first to suffer from shortages. Food insecurity is greater among women than it is for men in every region.

In 2020, nearly 60% of people who suffer from hunger are females and girls. This gap has only grown since then. Because they don’t have access to bank accounts, women’s assets are less secure than those of men.

Recovery from any crisis depends on society’s expectations regarding gender roles. Women are often the ones who bear the brunt after a disaster, even if they don’t have access to other income-generating activities.

We know that women spend, on average, 3.2 times more time than men on unpaid care work, and the COVID-19 pandemic – another human-induced natural catastrophe – made evident how unequally unpaid care and domestic work is shared, and how undervalued and underrecognized it is.

This is a significant constraint on women’s access to education. It prevents them from gaining entry to and progressing in the paid labor force. It also blocks their political participation.

Gender inequality can exacerbate the effects of natural catastrophes. The consequences of natural hazards can also exacerbate gender inequality. An unacceptable vicious cycle. The world is already suffering from increasing climate-related disasters. Governments must immediately and long-term invest in universal access health care, water, sanitation, education, and infrastructure to ensure gender equality and full enjoyment of women’s human rights.

Even during times of crisis when state coffers are almost empty, there are fair solutions to increase revenues to finance investments to strengthen women’s resilience. To make those who benefit from crises ravaging our planet, and from natural disasters, work,This is the recommendation of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. I’m a member of the ICRICT along with Jayati Ghosh, Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. Instead of implementing austerity measures that cause the greatest harm to the most vulnerable, states can increase their fiscal capacity by taxing the super-rich and corporations more.

It begins with taxing super profits made multinationals. This has already been done in several European and Latin American countries.. This is especially true for pharmaceutical giants who have made a fortune by selling vaccines against Covid-19 that they were able develop thanks to public subsidies. Multinationals operating in the food or energy sector also face this problem.

Oxfam estimates that their profits increased by more than two and a half times (256%) in 2022 compared with the 2018–2021 average. The same reason is why it is so urgent to tax those who have gotten away with not paying any taxes..

One cannot accept the fact that Elon Musk is one of the richest men in history is taxed at 3.3% and Aber Christine is a market trader in Uganda selling rice at 40%.

Progressive taxation is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. It involves making multinationals and the richest people pay their fair share. Let’s remember, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day today, that without gender equality it is impossible for societies to be more resilient..

Continue to ignore it is a political option, and a more dangerous threat to development than natural catastrophes.

Magdalena Sepúlveda The Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and a member of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. She was UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty & Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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