Kaduna state and gender equality in tax administration

In 2020, a local Hausa delicacy seller, Zainab Mai-Masa, received the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADIRS) Micro Business Tax Award.

Hajiya Mai-Masa, a 60-year-old widow, who sells masa, a spongy rice cake delicacy at Signboard, Unguwan Dosa Junction, Kaduna, had paid N100, 000 as presumptive tax in 2020.

She was among the 23 taxpayers, revenue generating agencies and other officials that were honoured by KADIRS at its 2020 Grand Dinner and Award Night.

KADIRS official had explained that her business falls under presumptive tax in the informal sector and is required to pay N50, 000 by law, but she decided to pay N100,000 voluntarily.

She explained that she was motivated to pay the tax because of the visible infrastructural development taking place across the state.
This exemplary patriotism to civic duty depicted the contribution of women in the development agenda of Kaduna state and Nigeria in general.
Nigeria is one of the focused countries of global policy leaders and stakeholders in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 Gender Equality project.
This is largely because of its tradition, custom, sexual stereotyping of social roles and cultural prejudice that militate against some rights and full participation of women on an equal basis with men in national development.
As a UN member state, Nigeria has signed and ratified various international instruments, treaties and conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
These treaties and conventions require member nations to establish mechanisms to eliminate gender discrimination and to ensure equality and human dignity for all men and women.
Responding to this obligation, the Nigerian government had developed and enacted several laws to bridge gender gaps and strengthen inclusion in governance and decision-making process.
For instance, under the National Gender Policy, 2021 – 2026, the federal government is committed to building a nation devoid of gender discrimination, guaranteeing equal access to political, social and economic wealth creation opportunities for women and men.
To achieve this, the government pledged to take drastic policy measures that would promote the full participation of women in both public and private sectors as agents of development.
As a sub-national state, Kaduna state government keyed into the federal government’s gender inclusiveness.
The results became visible over the years with numerous women occupying several leadership positions and seats at the decision-making table.
The ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals were not left behind in the struggle to bridge the gender gaps and ensure that women are given the chance to contribute to the development of the state.
Public analysts opined that increasing women’s participation in the tax labour force, improving their income-earning opportunities and eliminating all forms of gender barriers, would engender speedy economic growth and poverty reduction worldwide.
This is based on the belief that efficient tax systems play a critical role in supporting gender equality by funding programmes that benefit women and girls.
Records show that Kaduna state, through KADIRS, is optimising tax collection mechanisms to ensure that revenue generated contributes to gender-sensitive policies and development programmes.

In justification

The head corporate communication (KADIRS) Mr Jamilu Zakari, said that historically, tax administration has been dominated by men, with women often marginalised or schemed out of leadership roles.
Zakari, however, said that the emergence of Dr Hadiza Balarabe as the deputy governor of the state had inspired the ‘I can do’ spirit among women across the state.
He added that women are now breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes and making significant contributions in the tax administration space and other spheres of life.
“This development marked a significant step towards promoting gender equality and empowering women in tax administration.
“Also, in recognising the value of diverse perspectives and skill sets, the state government had actively encouraged more women to pursue career prospects in tax administration.
“To this end, KADIRS instituted a Gender-Sensitive Special Recruitment Drive that reserved quotas for women, thereby, creating an enabling environment for more women to join the tax profession,” he said.
Utilising the opportunities in career progression and leadership positions created by the state government, women are increasingly using their capacities in driving efficient tax administration in the state.
The coordinator, Kaduna Tax Justice Network, Mr Simeon Olatunde, said that currently, women were heading strategic departments and units in KADIRS and making a huge difference.
He particularly pointed out that at the apex, KADIRS Board’s secretary and legal adviser is a woman, which he described as ‘commendable’.
Other notable leadership positions occupied by women in the revenue service, according to him, included Directorate of Revenue Operations, Stamp Duties and Capital Gains Tax.

Others, he added, were Head of Withholding Tax, head of Taxpayer Service, head of Store, and Team Lead of Tax Audit.
To improve the capacity of women to deliver on their task, KADIRS equally equipped women with necessary skills and knowledge to thrive and make the necessary impact.
This was done through organising workshops, seminars and participating in programmes being organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, KADIRS Tax Academy, Institute of Chartered Accountants, Nigerian Institute of Management and Joint Tax Board.
The measure, according to analysts, exposed the female workers to technical skills on tax laws, policies and administration procedures and ensured a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Similarly, tax administration experts have argued that women were contributing to the successes being recorded in revenue generation in Kaduna state and playing a significant role in tax administration in Africa.
They insist that women are bringing new perspectives and skills to the table and helping to make tax systems fairer and more equitable.
As Ms Mary Baine, deputy executive secretary, African Tax Administration Forum, rightly pointed out, “It’s important for women to be in tax to ensure that the bigger part of society is tax compliant.“.
On the successes of the gender inclusion reforms, a trajectory of revenue collection in Kaduna shows a steady increase in IGR from N13 billion in 2013 to N44.9 billion in 2019, N50.8 billion in 2020, N52.9 billion in 2021 and N58.1 billion in 2022.
Also, a tax area manager, Mrs Godiya Kyola of Doka West Area Revenue Office, has kept the record of being the highest in terms of revenue generation among the 32 Area Revenue Offices in the state.
This further underscores the significant contributions of employing more women in tax administration and the need to further empower women through leadership training and mentoring programmes.
Beyond KADIRS, the state has implemented various women empowerment programmes like skill acquisition, vocational training and entrepreneurship development, according to the state SDGs Report, 2021.
The report shows that as at 2019, female representation in skills training programmes was 70 per cent for apprenticeship and 58 per cent at the Community Skills Development Centre.
The reports noted that the contribution of women in the development of the state is incalculable and occurs despite persistent barriers and discrimination to women advancement.
It shows that women representation in the state House of Assembly had increased from 0 per cent in 2017 to 8.5 per cent in 2021.
It added that the six of the 14 cabinet members were females with about 40 per cent of government agencies headed by women, thereby exceeding the 35 per cent National Gender Policy.
The report further shows that two of the three newly created Municipal Metropolitan Authorities are headed by women, while women and men who secured rights to agricultural land was 13.6 per cent and 17.7 per cent respectively.
Also, the state government during COVID-19 pandemic, had placed women in the frontline of its response to the pandemic, which demonstrated its confidence in women’s capacity to provide quality leadership.
Reacting, a stakeholder, Mrs Lucy Abagi, recalled that Balarabe, with six female commissioners and other women heading key parastatal agencies were part of the taskforce that responded to COVID-19 issues in the state.
“This is commendable, considering the high number of women involved in the decision-making process in the state, including decisions on COVID-19 response,” Abagi, a senior programme manager, Connected Development (CODE) said.
To sustain the gains so far recorded, Dr Balarabe recently reiterated the state government’s firm commitment to promoting gender equality and women empowerment in all aspects of its development agenda.
Balarabe made the pledge during a recent Private Sector Forum on Gender Responsive Supply Chains in Kaduna organised by UN women in collaboration with African Development Bank (AfDB) and Zamani Foundation.
“Gov Uba Sani-led administration believes that empowering women is not only a matter of right, but also a good economic strategy that can boost growth, reduce poverty and enhance social cohesion,” she said.
The executive chairman of KADIRS, Mr Jerry Adams equally buttressed this resolve in a remark to commemorate the 2023 International Men’s Day.
Jerry said,“As we celebrate International Men’s Day, let us also reflect on the value of gender equality and continue to strive for a world where every individual, regardless of their gender, has equal opportunities to succeed and thrive.”
These assertions are in line with SDGs 5 which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.

This gender equality, according to the SDGs agenda, is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.
The UN also pointed out that women and girls represent half of the world’s population and half of its potential, but expressed concern that gender inequalities persist everywhere, stagnating social progress.