To Aid Gender Equality, Reward Work, Not Wealth

A new report from Oxfam outlines clear steps that governments and the private sector can take to create an economy that works for ordinary people.

A new report from Oxfam takes a hard look at our growing inequality problems, and outlines steps that governments and businesses can take to work toward a more equitable and healthy economy.

Endorsed by several experts in development and labor, the report also has a section devoted to addressing the overlap between “economic and gender inequality” that looks at how the gender wealth gap plays out in women having less land ownership and other assets, and observes that “the neoliberal economic model has made this worse – reductions in public services, cuts to taxes for the richest, and a race to the bottom on wages and labour rights have all hurt women more than men.”

And what are some of the solutions? That was the most interesting part of this report, so am sharing some of my favorites here:

  • Oxfam calls for governments to set targets for income distribution, and gives specific suggestions: “The collective income of the top 10% to be no more than the income of the bottom 40%.”
  • The report calls for ending extreme wealth.  “To end extreme poverty, we must also end extreme wealth. Today’s gilded age is undermining our future. Governments should use regulation and taxation to radically reduce levels of extreme wealth, as well as limit the influence of wealthy individuals and groups over policy making.”
  • Use anti-capitalist business models that “incentivize business models that prioritize fairer returns, including cooperatives and employee participation in company governance and supply chains.”

There are lots of other recommendations I liked, such as pay ratios for keeping down CEO pay, but this was one also deserves particular attention:

  • Use tax to reduce extreme wealth. Prioritize taxes that are disproportionately paid by the very rich, such as wealth, property, inheritance and capital gains taxes. Increase tax rates and collection on high incomes. Introduce a global wealth tax on billionaires, to help finance the SDGs.

What a brilliant idea: financing the SDG’s, particularly SDG 5 for gender equality, with tax money that would end extreme wealth.

It all feels rather unobtainable now, while we are facing one of the most conservative and un-feminist governments ever in America. But it is helpful to read and consider recommendations from reports like this one. Leadership from Oxfam and others advocating for a fairer economy can provide critical guidance on how to make the economy work better for everyone.

Read the full report here. 


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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