Monday, 9 March 2015

Arguments for a gendered investment plan

Paula Clancy: As a consequence of austerity policies the programme for gender equality in Ireland has been hard hit.  Ursula Barry’s recent TASC paper ‘Gender Equality and Economic Crisis: Ireland and EU’ highlights how gender equality in Ireland has been marginalised as an employment policy objective. This is similar to what is happening in Europe more generally, exemplified by the absence of a gender equality guidelines in the most recent 2010-2020 European Employment Strategy (EES).

Since the crisis women have been more exposed to pay freezes, job cuts and reduced pension entitlements.  Women have been more affected by cuts to public services since they are the more likely to depend on these services and women are also more likely to assume the extra unpaid work resulting from cuts to public services (European Commission, 2012).

A recent round-table  – Recovery for whom? Austerity policies, gendered impacts and policy alternatives for Europe -  organised by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and TASC among others, discussed persuasive proposals for gendered economic policies which if implemented would go a long way to correcting this slide.

A paper from Prof Marcella Corsi from Sapienza University in Rome - Towards a Pink New Deal - argues that the crisis provides an opportunity to make significant progress on the issue of equality between women and men, precisely because the evidence is mounting on the importance of women to the European economy – from  productivity and innovation gains to financing public pensions. 

A paper by Signe Hansen and Lars Anderson of the Economic Council of the Labour Movement presents a gendered investment plan which demonstrates how investing in a public childcare system will create jobs, increase the female participation rate and ensure that Europe will have a quicker return to  growth.

Developing the argument, economists Giovanni Cozzi and Jerome De Henau critique the recently launched Junker Investment Plan for its failure to mention investment in social infrastructure as a more effective way of generating employment than simply investing in physical infrastructure.  

Cozzi and De Henau highlight how a gendered expansionary macroeconomic scenario would lead to significant long term gains in terms of employment for both women and men,  and economic growth, while at the same time generating a caring economy.

More details on the Gender and Austerity research programme are available on the TASC website.

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