Message from ATAF Executive Secretary on International Women Day 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic is wrecking social and economic havoc in our highly interconnected world. The impact of and responses to the pandemic has brought to the fore the inequalities in the world – which are likely to be amplified in the forthcoming recovery period. Africa has been severely impacted upon by the pandemic, its recovery is likely to be long and difficult. Countries will need to tap into every available resource to help the continent not only recover but to embark on a sustainable developmental trajectory. This presents the opportunity for one of Africa’s untapped resources to rise to the challenge. Africa’s women have demonstrated tenacious perseverance and survivability in challenging setting must be brought forth to lend their expertise and to lead efforts for the continent’s recovery. Their efforts and sacrifices give meaning to this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 World”.  
Building on the broader agenda of gender equality and in the spirit of the theme of International Women’s Day – ATAF on the 23rd of March 2021 will launch the “ATAF Women in Tax Network”. The network will represent and connect the women of Africa working in taxation with the aim of furthering discussion on the effect of tax policy on gender equality and empowering women in tax. The Network will be an association which will encourage the participation of African Women working in taxation in Government, Private sector, Civil Society and Academia. It will build a platform for women to network and share experiences and will introduce programmes such as mentorship, leadership, research, and workshops on key topics impacting on women on the continent. 
The presence of African women holding high office in their respective countries, and on regional, continental, and global platforms; as well as in the private sector and in civil society bodies bears testimony to their leadership skills and abilities. Women in Africa have also been in the forefront in efforts to interdict the pandemic – as medical professionals and in other critical sector employment. The recent appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the former Minister of Finance in Nigeria is testimony, she was unanimously chosen as the World Trade Organization’s new Director-General – making her the first woman and the first African ever to hold the post. 
In African countries, prevalent tax policies impose unfair burdens on women who are financially stressed, denying them the opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty and to contribute more constructively to wider national economic growth. The OECD indicates that gender equality and taxation are rarely addressed together, but that the relation to development cooperation should not be overlooked, and that policy makers should ensure that tax policy initiatives do not have a negative impact on the results needed for gender equality. The achievement of the 2030 Agenda is only a few years away and taxes play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The “ATAF Women in Tax Network” is a program to unleash the potential of African women to make greater contributions to the continent’s development.
On International Women’s Day 2021 – let us come together, women and men and advance gender equality and celebrate the activism of women and girls.  
I look forward to seeing you at the launch!!

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