The Scottish Women’s Budget Group (SWBG) is a membership organisation working with women across Scotland to advocate for a more equal and caring economy – an economy that prioritises care of one another and the environment in which we live.
The group was set up in 2000 and has been advocating for the inclusion of gender budgeting in Scottish decision-making processes since then. With some successes along the way, for example we are happy to be members of the Scottish Government Equality Budget Advisory Group.
Now, as Scotland starts to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic we walk straight into the eye of another storm that has been growing in urgency over the years – the climate emergency. We are advocating that as Scotland responds to the climate crisis, it also works to tackle inequalities, and takes a gendered approach from the start.
Our mission is to promote equality through gender budgeting to build a fairer and more equal Scotland. Women and men use public services differently, and there is a great variety of experiences between women – we have different life experiences and face different economic realities and challenges. Women are often disadvantaged by policies that do not recognise these different experiences.
The change we want to see
- An economy that works for women
- Public spending decisions that recognise the different challenges faced by women and men
- Investment in social infrastructure, like care services
- A caring social security system
We hope that by working with women, communities, statutory and voluntary agencies, trades unions and other partners – including government – we can make public spending more effective and responsive to the lives of women in Scotland.
By taking this approach in considering what a feminist green recovery from Covid-19 could look like, there is an opportunity to tackle inequality, but this requires concerted effort to recognise the inequalities faced in our society and plan for change through the green transition. We are working with others to highlight the importance of a feminist green recovery and to include recommendations on how this can be achieved and the role of gender analysis in the budget process to help make this a reality.
An important element in work considering a feminist green recovery is recognising the role care plays in our economy and that care jobs are green jobs and must be considered a crucial pillar in climate and gender-sensitive transition planning.
The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown and economic crisis have highlighted and sharpened existing inequalities within our society. Women, black and ethnic minority communities and disabled people are economically the hardest hit by the crisis and the risk of deepening existing inequalities is high.
Women have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis, making up the majority of health and care workers and the majority of workers at high risk to exposure to Covid-19. But all too often in jobs that are underpaid and undervalued. Alongside this, other sectors which have a predominately female workforce have been harder hit by the impact of lockdown and ongoing restrictions of social distancing, with risk of unemployment or reducing working hours remaining high.
Women are facing a rising tide of poverty which highlights the importance of a gendered response to the economic crisis and recovery packages put in place to build back better. Critical to this is a need for gender analysis and gender-sensitive sex-disaggregated data on the impacts of Covid-19 incorporated into policymaking and recovery planning.
Care work is overwhelmingly carried out by women and is a key sector in the economy. Although it is not often formally recognized as a key economic sector, care work underpins Scotland’s economy. And yet, because it is overwhelmingly carried out by women, it is undervalued and has suffered from chronic underinvestment.
Now is a crucial time to be advocating for change.
There are lots of ways to get involved in considering how budgets and decisions on public spending affect women in your community. And with COP26 in Glasgow there’s never been a better time to think about how Scotland ensures it’s green transition works to tackle inequalities.
To get more involved check out the resources on our website, follow us on twitter or join SWBG to add your voice to our work.