Feminist alternatives to conventional macroeconomic policies
Gender budgeting is a methodology proposed by feminist economists to analyse and reformulate public budgets (at all levels) from a gender equality perspective. The essence of gender budgeting includes looking into public budgets in terms of income (e.g. taxes, interest rates, etc.) and spending, highlighting the different impacts these political economic choices have on different genders, and proposing alternatives that will actually aid gender equality within society. Ideally, this should also include an analysis and inclusion of the ‘reproductive’ work undertaken by women and girls as unpaid care work into the calculations of public income and spending.
Gender budgeting (sometimes also called gender-responsive budgeting) is a part of gender mainstreaming efforts. It has been accepted and implemented by some countries (such as Austria, Chile, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Rwanda, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Uganda) at the national level, and by some municipalities at the local level. However, our feminist analysis should also extend to the current gender-budgeting practices. In some contexts, gender budgeting has been transformed and co-opted to hide the structures and powers that aid current neoliberal policies. When the methodology refrains from getting into controversial macroeconomic issues (such as tax justice or redistribution of power and resources), it becomes a tool that can deliver only small changes rather than real transformations towards gender equality and economic justice.
“Their [gender budgets’] actual content and purpose varies from country to country, in accordance with the institutional structures, budget processes and the political climate in each country. In addition to promoting the gender-equitable use of public resources, in many instances they also promote: the more efficient use of public resources; transparency and accountability in public resource use and the reduction of corruption; and the democratisation of macroeconomic policy-making, by increasing not only the participation and voice of women, but of citizens generally, in decisions relating to fiscal policy. The analysis is carried out not only in relation to government allocations specifically targeted at women or categories pertaining more obviously to gender issues, but also with respect to all allocations.”
– Nilüfer Çağatay and Korkut Ertürk, Gender and Globalization: A Macroeconomic Perspective