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6 challenges to embrace in building a caring, green recovery

Last month we launched a paper ‘Challenges for 2021 and beyond’ ahead of the Scottish elections. We called on Scotland’s political parties to respond to the challenges and to commit to invest in an economy that cares. Here we share the six key challenges the politicians must grasp if our recovery is to tackle existing inequality and the climate crisis, while working towards a gender equal economy.

Build a feminist green recovery – so that responding to climate change can tackle existing inequalities in Scotland

This year Glasgow will host the COP 26 climate talks. The recovery from Covid must also set us on a greener path but this path must recognise the need to tackle inequalities as we reduce our carbon emissions.

Core to tackling climate destruction is valuing life-sustaining livelihoods, including the care economy. This means a new deal for care workers whether in social care, unpaid care, childcare, teaching, or health care. It’s time that care jobs are recognised as green jobs.

Invest in care – to build a system that puts wellbeing at the centre and invests in the people who are supported by it and the care workforce

Care work is overwhelmingly carried out by women and is a key sector in our economy. Yet it is undervalued and has suffered from chronic underinvestment. This lack of investment must be recognised as both a cause and consequence of an unequal society.

Perceptions of care work have changed through the course of this pandemic and now is the time for significant investment in our care services and those who work in them. Building services with the participation of those who use them, with local flexibility underpinned by a human rights approach and a clear gender analysis.

Transform the worlds of paid and unpaid work – to provide time for both women and men to care

During the Covid-19 crisis the reliance on unpaid care work has increased, with social care and support packages cut, reductions in respite care and a closure of childcare and schools. Each one of these changes and closures has impacted women most – women who were already undertaking the majority of unpaid care work pre-pandemic, and who undertook even more throughout 2020-21.

It's time for ambitious change that seeks to redistribute caring and unpaid work responsibilities between women and men, and between the family and the state.

Create a caring social security system – that provides people with a dignified safety net when they need it

Social security should provide everyone in society with a safety net and support when needed. Yet the Covid-19 has highlighted how inadequate the provisions are and this hits women hardest as women have a greater reliance on social security.

The challenge for Scotland in the next parliamentary term is creating a caring social security system and using the powers available in Scotland to increase incomes and lift people out of poverty.

Develop the tax system to promote fairness and equality – using revenue raising powers to tackle inequality

How government generates income through taxes has an important role to play in tackling inequality. Decisions about how best to raise public funds through tax can affect women and men differently. In Scotland, as across the UK, the unequal taxation of income from wealth and income from work represents a tax break for wealthy men.

As we recover from Covid-19 we need to see Government decisions that build fairness into our tax system, and that work together with public spending decisions to tackle inequality.

Deliver gender mainstreaming in policy development – putting theory into practice

In order to deliver on each of the challenges outlined above those making budget decisions in Government must ensure that in each decision recognises the different needs and experiences faced by different groups of women and men.

There are tools that should be used in government to make sure this happens, ensuring Equality Impact Assessments are completed in budgeting and policy decision making processes is a vital piece of this challenge.

These are our six key challenges to policy makers and politicians, and they are challenges that will remain after the election. We need to hear far more from all of the candidates in this election on how they would respond to these challenges. We would encourage everyone to raise them with their candidates at hustings or directly.

Click here to read our full Challenges Paper

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