Mrs. Katharine M Christopherson Puh, Audrey Yiadom, Juliet Johnson, Francisca Fernando, Hanan Yazid, and Clara Thiemann
It is well established that a wide range of legal impediments in countries’ domestic laws have prevented women from achieving full economic empowerment, which in turn has negative macroeconomic implications. In many countries, laws often reflect and perpetuate gender norms that limit women’s economic participation, and removal of these impediments through legal reform has been shown to be an effective method to catalyze greater participation of women in the economy—along with the related macroeconomic benefits. Once legal barriers are removed and provisions for more equal treatment under the law are embedded, the law can also be employed as a powerful tool to incentivize women to pursue equal opportunities, change mindsets regarding the role of women, and hold institutions and individuals accountable for achieving results. Accordingly, it is imperative for countries to focus on eliminating existing legal impediments and designing appropriate incentives to increase women’s participation in the economy. This paper goes beyond previous Fund work by categorizing the key sources of laws that impede women’s economic empowerment, as well as ways in which the law can be used as a tool to create behavioral changes and shifts in perceptions of women in the economy. Case studies of six countries (Iceland, Peru, Rwanda, The Philippines, Tunisia, and the United States) that rank high in gender equality in their respective regions demonstrate how legal reforms have been implemented in differing contexts to help achieve women’s economic empowerment. Given the relevance to the Fund’s mandate, the paper also notes the case for a stepped-up role for the IMF in advising on legal reforms that remove barriers to, and incentivize, women’s economic empowerment. Although this paper highlights dominant belief systems and cultural norms that have contributed to limiting the economic empowerment of women, it does not intend to render any judgment on these systems or norms.
Maria Delgado Coelho, Aieshwarya Davis, Mr. Alexander D Klemm, and Ms. Carolina Osorio Buitron
This paper provides an overview of the relation between tax policy and gender equality, covering labor, capital and wealth, as well as consumption taxes. It considers implicit and explicit gender biases and corrective taxation. On labor taxes, we discuss the well-established findings on female labor supply and present new empirical work on the impact of household taxation. We also analyze the impact of progressivity on pay gaps and labor supply. On capital and wealth taxation, we discuss the implications of lower effective capital income taxation on the personal income tax burden gap across genders. We show that countries with relatively low female shares of capital income and wealth also tend to tax property and inheritances particularly lightly. On consumption taxes, we cover taxes on female hygiene products and excise taxes, which we assess in relation to externalities and differences in consumption patterns across genders.
Virginia Alonso-Albarran, Ms. Teresa R Curristine, Gemma Preston, Alberto Soler, Nino Tchelishvili, and Sureni Weerathunga
Achieving gender equality remains a significant challenge, that has only deepened with the on-set of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender budgeting (GB) can help promote gender equality by applying a gender perspective to fiscal policies and the budget process. This paper takes stock of GB practices in G20 countries and benchmarks country performance using a GB index and data gathered from an IMF survey. All G20 countries have enacted gender focused fiscal policies but the public financial management (PFM) tools to operationalize these policies are far less established. We find that notwithstanding heterogeneity across countries, the average G20 level of GB practice is relatively low. More progress has been made establishing GB frameworks and budget preparation tools than with budget execution, monitoring and auditing. Too few countries assess the upfront impact of policies on gender and/or evaluate ex-post the effectiveness of policies and programs. Where GB features are in place, they tend to operate as an ‘add-on’, rather than a strategic and integral part of resource allocation decisions. Progress with GB does not appear to be dependent on the level of country development. Key to future efforts will be harnessing opportunities for integrating GB tools into existing PFM systems and more closely linking GB initiatives with PFM reforms.