CFP: Women, Equality and Fiscal Policy: Gender Analysis of Taxes, Spending and Budgets

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Call for papers for workshop on :

Women, Equality, and Fiscal Policy:

Gender Analysis of Taxes, Spending, and Budgets


Context and purpose of the workshop:

The political economy of women is deeply affected by gender differences: women’s incomes are, over their lives, lower than men’s, yet women work longer hours in both paid and unpaid work, and are expected to perform significantly larger shares of caregiving than men.   In contrast, men’s incomes are consistently higher beginning shortly after entering the paid labour force, and women’s demands for equality have not yet resulted in much change in the allocation of underpaid, unpaid, or caregiving work.   Nor is this situation changing for the better: standard gender equality indicators make it clear that women have been losing ground to men on all these issues since the early 2000s.


Over the last 25 years, the role that governmental taxation and spending functions play in reproducing women’s gender disadvantages has become increasingly visible.   Examination of core issues, such as the relationship between women, caregiving, and poverty; barriers to women’s empowerment; and the gendered allocation of unpaid and precarious work, have revealed important links between specific tax and expenditure measures and the status of women.   However, as contemporary governments increasingly look for ‘magic tax wands’ to solve economic, social, and political problems, it has become obvious that politically-palatable gender-specific measures such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit or the Universal Child Care Benefit are not adequate to effect any genuine change in the status of women.


At the same time, the negative gender impact of recent changes to basic tax structures : changes in the definition of the tax base; moving from the individual to the adult couple as the tax unit; replacing progressive rate structures with flattened rates; and dramatic changes in the overall tax mix : have gone largely ignored even as these changes have exacerbated hidden fiscal barriers to women’s equality.

What is striking is that these dynamics have not gone unchallenged.   Women have repeatedly spelled out the shortcomings of specific tax and benefit provisions, have articulated their needs in detail, and have shared their visions of genuine equality in every available venue.   To date, however, no government in Canada has addressed the fundamental structural biases that are built into existing fiscal instruments.   Indeed, virtually every important fiscal change over the last three decades has intensified gender regressivity, not reversed it.   Fundamental changes such as the enactment of express income splitting and tax subsidies for women’s financial dependency, shifts from progressive income taxation to consumption-based taxation, and dramatic cuts to personal and business tax rates all systemically have bolstered men’s after-tax incomes at the expense of women’s after-tax incomes.


This workshop brings together experts in tax law and policy, women’s studies, economics, fiscal sociology, development studies, and political science.   This workshop has two goals:   to further the cross-disciplinary documentation and analysis of the gender impact of fiscal instruments, and to examine the use of gender budgeting tools to eliminate gender-regressive fiscal policies at all levels of government.


Call for papers:

This workshop invites experts in gender studies, social and public policy, tax law, economics, accounting, development studies, and political science to address fiscal measures from gender perspectives, and/or to discuss methodological, theoretical, comparative, or empirical approaches that are useful in gender analysis.  


Date and location of workshop:

The workshop will be held at Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Kingston, Ont. on Saturday, March 7, 2008, from 9 am to 4 pm.   There will be an informal reception the evening before, and a dinner on the Saturday for those who will be remaining in Kingston on Saturday evening.   Information on accommodation will be provided to those who request it.


Submitting paper topics:

If you are interested in presenting a paper at this workshop, please email your paper topic and a short (one paragraph) description to Kathleen Lahey at   This can be sent any time until approximately Dec. 1, 2008, and your participation will be confirmed within 10 days of receipt of your topic and description.


The purpose of this workshop is to bring those whose work concerns gender analysis of tax and spending law together in a working session; therefore all those indicating an interest will be welcome to present.   Attendance without presenting a paper is also welcome.


Travel funding:

At this point, only limited seed funding for this workshop has been received. When submitting your topic, please indicate whether you would be able to obtain institutional support to attend, or whether you could attend only if you receive funding from Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s. Special funding to assist students who wish to attend will be sought.

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