Women and austerity: Gender mainstreaming in macroeconomic policy
Macroeconomic policy (including fiscal and monetary policy) is often thought of as ‘gender neutral’. But economic policies affect women and men differently due to their distinct positions and roles in the economy, both market (paid) and non-market (unpaid). When policymakers do not address this situation, the macroeconomic policies promoted are not ‘gender neutral’, but ‘gender-blind’ and they might even contribute to worsen gender inequality. That is the case of structural adjustment processes, as women are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of austerity through many channels. Today, more than two thirds of the countries worldwide are contracting their fiscal space and, by 2020, austerity is expected to impact 80 percent of the global population (Ortiz et al., 2015).
Simultaneously, most international organizations and fora are showing today some degree of concern about gender inequality and include gender objectives explicitly in their documents. Nevertheless, it can be argued that their focus is frequently too narrow, as many of them follow what has been called an “adding on social policy approach”, which means continuing to design and implement what are termed as “sound” macroeconomic policies within Neoclassical Economics, and then adding social policies in order to achieve socially desirable outcomes (Elson & Cagatay, 2000). This approach has proven to be insufficient, as most of these organizations recognize that progress in gender equality has been at least scarce.
The counterproposal is a “transformatory approach” based on the idea that social policy needs to be mainstreamed into macroeconomic analysis by means of rethinking macroeconomics (Elson & Cagatay, 2000). Closing gender gaps requires then specific policy interventions (including macroeconomic policy) that enhance not only women’s economic opportunities but also outcomes.
In this interdisciplinary call for papers the Gender and Economics Working Group, proposes some potential topics of discussion, with a special focus on policy implications:
- Care and caregiving
- Gender equity in the economy
- Gender and Macroeconomics
- Gender and Trade
Questions concerning this call may be sent to: …
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