WBG Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy

As the Women’s Budget Group, we are best known for our analysis of UK government policy for its impact on women. Now, we are pleased to announce a new project: the WBG Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy. Launched in February 2019, it is a first-of-its-kind, expert-led project which will work to proactively develop alternative economic policies to promote gender equality across the UK.

What does a gender-equal economy look like, and what policies do we need to achieve this?

These questions are at the heart of a new 18-month Commission headed up by the WBG which aims to develop a suite of alternative economic policies to promote gender equality in the UK.

The challenges that the currently UK faces; low productivity, lack of public investment, increased automation, an ageing population and the related social challenges such as low pay, in-work poverty and a crisis in public services, are both a cause and consequence of gender inequality.

The gendered division of labour means women are less available for paid work and earn less than men. This not only perpetuates women’s roles as carers rather than breadwinners, but also gender stereotypes about the relative interests and abilities of men and women. Gender roles and norms then reinforce – and are in turn reinforced by – women’s under-representation in decision-making positions. 

Inequalities based on gender intersect with other forms of inequality based on race, disability, income, age and so on meaning that some groups of women, particularly poor women, BME women and disabled women face intersecting disadvantages across their life course.

These structural inequalities are not only unfair, they undermine the UK’s economic well-being.

WBG’s vision of a gender-equal economy goes beyond measures to tackle specific inequalities, such as increasing the number of women in senior positions in companies, or eliminating the gender pay gap, but instead envisions a fundamentally reshaped economy which achieves a just society that is gender-equal across the board by putting the care and well-being of people and planet at its centre.  

An alternative economic approach focused on gender equality is not only desirable, but economically feasible, and indeed, necessary if we are to have an economy that is fair, sustainable and resilient.

The Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy will strive to develop this alternative economic approach, so that gender equality becomes a reality in the UK economy.

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