People’s Recovery or Austerity: Alternatives for a People-centred and Southern-led Recovery

March 6th, 2023

The Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC)  held a virtual event on Tuesday, 7 March 2023 as part of the Global Days of Action on Tax Justice for Women’s Rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a historic roll-back of women’s rights and rising gender inequality as a result of government inaction in allocating an adequate amount of COVID-19 recovery funds to social protection, the care economy and in addressing gender inequalities.[1]  A large share of the COVID-19 funds during the pandemic went to corporates, at least 38% of the funds that could be measured, while only 4% went to the informal sector which is majority female in terms of employment.  Social protection received 38% of the total amount of funds, helping to some extent for the short duration of 2020 and early 2021 to protect women against the worst aspects of the pandemic.[2]

However, by 2023 we are seeing a wave of austerity that is reducing the available funds to be spent on recovery in the global South, let alone addressing the food and energy crisis, or imagining a green and just transition in terms of addressing climate change.   By 2023, 83 countries will have rolled back government spending below pre-pandemic levels, with as many as 64 countries poised to introduce aggressive fiscal consolidation measures.[3] This impending wave of austerity where 85% of the world’s population will be living under austerity measures is aggravating poverty and intersecting inequalities everywhere, entrenching human rights and development reversals experienced as a result of simultaneous pandemic, war, climate and cost-of-living crises.

This makes advocacy for tax justice as an alternative to austerity more urgent than ever before. From the calls for the introduction of excess profit and wealth taxes[4], to the demands for structural reform of the global tax architecture and more progressive, equitable and responsive domestic tax systems; and ending harmful tax exemptions that drain public finances and contributed to the corporate recovery during COVID-19.[5]

This event aimed to create space for a discussion to take stock of the regression in terms of women’s rights and gender justice during the pandemic, and proposed alternatives, highlighting the ways in which the tax justice agenda can be articulated into a broader push back against austerity and for a green and just recovery.


Ommey Nahida, Senior Policy Specialist for Economic Justice, Christian Aid


  • Sophie Efange, Head of Policy, Gender & Development Network
  • Sarah Farooqui, Senior Policy Analyst, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability 
  • Klelia Guerrero, tax justice specialist, Latindadd
  • Friederike Strub, Gender Equality and Macroeconomics Lead, Bretton Woods Project





[3] Kentikelenis, A. & Stubbs, T. (2022) Austerity Redux: The Post-pandemic Wave of Budget Cuts and the Future of Global Public Health. Global Policy, 13:5–17. https://doi. org/10.1111/1758-5899.13028



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