Gender Equality and Macroeconomics: Achieving Transformative Social Change

Oct macroeconomics event

Always ready to take up new challenges, the UN Women UK London Leadership Team grasped the nettle of macroeconomics and successfully held an event in October last year hosted by Garden Court Chambers.

Our excellent speakers Rachel Noble, Women’s Rights Policy Advisor, Action Aid; Chiara Capraro, Policy Manger for Women’s Economic Rights at Womankind; and Professor Sue Himmelweit, a feminist economist and founding member of the Women’s Budget Group, ensured that our audience – some experienced economists and some keen to know more – understood more about the impact that public economic policies including taxation, currency, exchange rates, government borrowing and interest rates, trade and investment have on women/girls and that measures introduced should explicitly promote gender equality and ensure women are not disadvantaged.  We need to be absolutely clear in our calls for an economic system that serves women’s needs, recognises their contributions and facilitates their empowerment in every aspect of life. That means macroeconomic policies must embrace social objectives, such as human rights, alongside conventional economic policies to be truly transformative.

Rachel highlighted the importance of quality of jobs for women: her examples were taken from manufacturing and the garment industry, where stereotyping of what is often defined as ‘women’s work’ means that women make up some 80-90% of the workforce. Chiara focussed on taxation and gender justice, asking what corporations can do to actively promote gender justice. Taxation urgently needs reviewing to reflect the disproportionate impact of austerity, for example, on women. Sue shared with us the work of the Gender Budget Group to influence policy to reduce gender inequalities and encourage the Government to carry out gender impact assessments. Sue spoke about a feminist and fiscal economic strategy based on public investment in social infrastructure.  Interestingly, amongst a number of positive impacts women’s employment rate would rise by more than 5% points reducing the gender employment gap by a quarter through such a strategy.

Jessica Woodroffe, Director of the Gender and Development Network, chaired the event. Her in-depth knowledge of the subject area, highlighted the absolute importance of the mutual dependency of gender and economics. She spoke powerfully for the need to calibrate women’s unpaid care work into the macroeconomic equation. We need more women’s voices at the macroeconomic decision-making table!

Our enthusiastic audience joined in a lively debate and raised interesting issues and questions. The message of the event was loud and clear that “macroeconomic policies shape women’s lives at every level” – it’s too important a subject not to engage with! We need to continue to increase the confidence of gender equality advocates everywhere to operate proactively in the area of macroeconomics and policy making.

Donations of £100 were received to support UN Women programmes.

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Thanks to our speakers and audience for a great event!

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