Around the world, different approaches are used to try and ensure that women’s unpaid work is recognised and counted by policymakers. This is so that service design and delivery, as well as employment practices, take account of the unpaid work that props up the economy.
Although women’s paid work has substantially increased over the last hundred years, we haven’t seen a balancing increase in men’s unpaid work. There is no reason, except cultural stereotypes, why women should do so much more domestic and reproductive labour.
Unpaid work should not be a marginal note in assessments of how well our economy is functioning. We need national institutional commitment to making women’s unpaid work visible. As we plan our economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, this is more important than ever.
1. Equality is good for growth. The converse isn’t necessarily true. As women and men had different levels of economic wellbeing before Covid-19 that have been deepened by the crisis, the principle of equality and non-discrimination must be core to the economic recovery. Inclusive growth means including all men and women in the process of growth and ensuring that the outcomes of growth are used to meet the needs of Black and minority ethnic, disabled, LGB & T, and older and younger women.
2. Gender-sensitive inclusive growth is about the pattern of growth and not its rate. Repatterning growth means seeing the poorest women’s income rise both along with the poorest men’s and also relative to men’s as a group.
3. Creating aggregate demand should mean cash transfers to women and their dependent children, so that women have money in their pockets to spend on goods and services in their local economies.
4. Inclusive growth means investing in a care economy. Care is as essential to our economy as bricks, steel, and fibre optic cable. Investment in childcare and care for disabled people and older people should be considered as necessary infrastructure for a sustainable wellbeing economy and a good society.
5. Unpaid domestic and care work needs to be recognised, reduced, and redistributed from the household to the state by an increase of accessible, good quality childcare and social care. Within households, men and women should be enabled to do a 50/50 share of paid work and unpaid work.
6. Women’s work in care, cleaning, catering, retail, and clerical roles has for too long been undervalued, underpaid, and underprotected. State and public body wage-setting powers should be used to increase pay in these sectors and improve their conditions of work
7. Economic success shouldn’t only be measured by GVA or GDP but by an increase in wellbeing of the people of Scotland. Gendered wellbeing indicators should take a human rights approach, and measure the extent to which all groups of women and men have an adequate standard of living, including access to housing, social protections, and health.
8. Public spending and revenue-raising decisions shaping Scotland’s economic recovery and the re-set of the economy must integrate gender analysis across budgetary processes. This includes allocation of resources, scrutiny of spending, and outcomes from public finance decisions.