Managing Risk Through Security: Social security’s contribution to tackling climate change and gender inequality

Date Posted: Monday 23rd May 2022

Climate ChangeEmploymentenvironmentFeminist Green New DealGreen Caring EconomyGreen New DealSocial SecuritySustainability
UK Feminist Green New Deal Policy Papers

Managing risk through security: Social security’s contribution to tackling climate change and gender inequality
by Marilyn Howard for the Women’s Budget Group


Read the full policy paper here.

Social security is an important part of a package of social and economic policies which could mitigate climate change. Such policies should not disadvantage people on low incomes and women, so both environmental sustainability and gender equality must be considered. This paper focuses on the UK social security system, drawing on a more detailed social security paper for forthcoming publication by the Women’s Budget Group. Social security reforms have been discussed for many years, with no easy answers, but this paper identifies potential tradeoffs and directions to explore.

Social security is important for women, but proposed reforms rarely consider gender issues. This paper adapts Nancy Fraser’s principles for gender equality (broadly defined), to consider various dimensions of gender inequality, which can highlight trade-offs involved in specific reforms. Social security can contribute to environmental sustainability and equality alongside other policies. Reform proposals should:

  • Recognise the diversity of benefit types and functions, seek a better balance between them, and between benefits and services; a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is unlikely to be able to meet all social security functions;
  • Make those who are most responsible for carbon emissions pay most towards climate change policies;
  • Support, not compel, people on low incomes to make environmentally sustainable choices; and
  • Develop a new social contract between government and citizens to tackle climate change.

Read the full policy paper here.

About the Feminist Green New Deal project

The Feminist Green New Deal is bringing a gendered and intersectional approach/perspective to the Green economy/Green Recovery – ensuring that the voices of women, people of colour and other marginalised groups are heard during environmental and political debates.

Through a programme of nationwide grassroots workshops and policy roundtables a Feminist Green New Deal Manifesto will be created and launched at COP26 Glasgow Climate Talks.

This Project is a collaboration between Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) and the Women’s Budget Group (WBG).

Learn more about the project here.