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8 Priorities for a Feminist Economy in 2022

Blog post by Katie Gallogly-Swan, SWBG Convener, and Sara Cowan, SWBG Coordinator

The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the existing inequalities across the world, likely leading to the biggest regression in gender equality in our lifetimes. Scotland is no exception: because of an economy hardwired to marginalise women, where women are poorer, in more precarious work and undertake the majority of underpaid and unpaid care work, our ambitions for a more equal society have taken a massive blow. If we want to tackle these setups and indeed surpass past progress, efforts to address the widening gap between genders must be redoubled.

In 2022, we will see the roll out of the increased Scottish Child Payment, an increase in the minimum wage floor for social care staff, and free bus travel for those under 22; all efforts that – if designed with the help of gender budgeting tools and methods – can make a huge difference for Scotland’s women and marginalised communities. In this blog, we highlight eight of our priorities for 2022 to tackle the injustices from the pandemic and get us on the road to a feminist recovery.

1. A revolution for the care economy

2022 will see the Scottish Government progress the next steps in the National Care Service. This has the opportunity to transform how care is delivered in Scotland but only if it is properly invested in with secure and well-paid staff, is delivered with a human rights-based approach, responds to local needs, provides universal access to quality services, and puts gender analysis at the centre of the decision-making process. Designing a feminist NCS will take significant investment and political will, but the gains for all of Scotland’s people and particularly for women will be life-changing. While work on the NCS continues, existing care services need further investment to best deliver for care workers, service-users and their families.

2. Rallying women to engage in decision-making

Over the course of the year we’ll be looking to provide opportunities for women to raise their voices as part of the political process at local and national levels. The local elections in May are likely to follow previous trends with low participation compared to national elections, despite the fact that decisions made at local level are crucially important to the public services that are delivered in our communities. It is encouraging to see early efforts to engage diverse candidates considering the under-representation of women, minorities and people with disabilities in our existing councillor cohort. At the national level, the Scottish Government will be undertaking a series of important consultations throughout 2022 on issues critical to a feminist recovery, and ensuring engagement from diverse women will be critical to their success.

3. Transformative investment in public services

The Resource Spending Review will be published in May 2022, setting a multi-year spending direction across services that we interact with every day. Well-funded services are a critical part of a feminist economy, and should be designed to be ‘gender-transformative’, leveraging further equity for all women. Despite talk of fiscal tightening to manage the pandemic stimulus bill, we know that it was the former cuts to services that undermined our resilience when the pandemic shock hit. Ahead of the publication there is an open consultation that we will be responding to and we’d like to hear from you: sign up our series of events that will inform our response and our asks ahead of the Local Elections, take part in our women’s survey launching in February and get in touch if there are particular issues you think SWBG should be covering.

4. Hardwiring equality into our society

The Scottish Government is also consulting on how the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland at the start of this year (until 7 March). The duties have been in place for 10 years this year and they provide a legislative underpinning that requires the public sector to embed and promote equality throughout their processes. If you have experience of the Public Sector Equality Duty or working with Equality Impact Assessments we’d love to hear from you to support our response, email Heather to get involved.

5. Getting Scotland on the road to a feminist recovery

Later in the year we expect a consultation on the National Performance Framework. This framework sets the tone for what is valued within our society and economy and throughout 2021 we joined calls with others for the addition of a national outcome on care. This culminated with the publication of a blueprint of what such an outcome could look like and we will continue to work with partners at Oxfam Scotland, One Parent Family Scotland, Carers Scotland and Scottish Care to highlight the importance of including care within these important measures.

6. Gender budgeting at every level of government

Throughout the year we’ll be working with local authorities and women’s groups to build capacity on using gender budgeting at a local level. There’s lots of ways women across Scotland can get involved from attending our training workshops, joining our team of mentors, participating and sharing our Women and the Economy survey due out in February, and joining our deep dive sessions running through February and March.

7. An anti-austerity fiscal framework

The Scottish Fiscal Framework –detailing how to operationalise the fiscal powers recommended for devolution by the 2014 Smith Commission – is due for review with the UK Government in 2022. This is an opportunity to consider how our existing fiscal framework can better deliver for our social and policy ambitions, especially considering the investment needs of recovery and climate action which far outstrip existing trends. A new suite of tax levers and borrowing powers could put the Scottish Government in a better position to tackle inequality and manage economic shocks in the coming years.

8. A Feminist Just Transition

The Just Transition Commission reconvened in early 2022 with the objective to scrutinise government plans and propose policy directives to manage the rapid decarbonisation required to meet Scotland’s climate commitments. With a SWBG appointee on the Commission this year, we want to elevate the importance of an intersectional approach to Scotland’s just transition, using the opportunity of decarbonisation to tackle the diverse inequities in Scottish society. This includes ensuring representation of women across emerging renewable sectors, but also investing in social infrastructure such as care, health and education as critical low-carbon sectors where women are disproportionately represented and underpaid. Care jobs are green jobs, and the success of Scotland’s transition will depend on understanding this task beyond the energy sector to include a systemic and society-wide transformation.

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