Often the terms ‘economy’ and ‘economic policies’ can make us think of things that have everything to do with money, taxes and powerful people, and nothing to do with women’s rights. But the both are very much interconnected! In this series, FII and ActionAid India, as part of our campaign ‘Linking to the Global to the Local’, are taking a look at the link between economic policies and women’s rights and much more!
1. What are economic policies?
Economic policies’ are the decisions and plans that governments make related to the distribution and provision of goods, services and money. In simple words, economic policies would include, for example, how much tax to charge and who should pay it, what public services to provide, and how to support people who can’t find work etc.
2. Economic policies affect men and women differently
Since most societies and cultures around the world are deeply patriarchal, men have significantly more power than women on wealth and resources are redistributed. This has led to huge levels of economic inequality between women and men, as well as violations of women’s economic rights. Men usually earn more than women and also have greater access to intergenerational property and wealth.
3. Women and unpaid work
Men are seen responsible for paid work outside the home, so the burden of unpaid care work and domestic work falls upon women. Women have to undertake a disproportionate amount of unpaid care and domestic work, which often includes looking after children, the elderly, fetching water and preparing meals for the household.
4. Women and paid work
Even when women do paid work, it’s often in the informal economy, where their worker’s rights are not protected and jobs are low paid and insecure. Women make up a huge chunk of the informal sector, working as domestic workers, street vendors or in the gig economy. Even in the formal sector, 75-80% of women work in low paid, service-sector jobs, like healthcare, teaching or domestic work.
5. Who is the worst hit?
Due to these patriarchal social norms and existing inequalities, women are often disproportionately affected when a government introduces harmful economic policies. Women and girls, especially in countries with high levels of poverty, are the worst hit. They are at the highest risk of losing out on income and food security, coupled with the burden of unpaid care work.
6. The Covid-19 pandemic and women’s rights
The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the economies of a lot of countries – and women and girls have been the worst hit by the crisis. Key workers in health, education and social care tend to be women, which puts them at greater risks of infection. Women are also overrepresented in the service industry, which has also been negatively impacted by lockdown restrictions.
7. The way forward
Owing to the policy responses adopted by many countries for Covid-19, young women and girls have been the worst hit by the economic crises across countries. Without dedicated funding and focus, gender and other inequalities will be exacerbated, and women’s rights further eroded. There is an urgent need for the Covid-19 response policies to be tailored to protect the rights of women during the Covid-19 crisis.
This poster series is part of FII and ActionAid India‘s joint digital media campaign ‘Linking the Global to The Local’. Throughout this collaboration, FII and ActionAid India will be focusing on how international financial institutions impact public services and young women’s rights and how we can create change.
If you’re a woman or belong to a gender-minority and want to share with us how Gender Responsive Public Services (GRPS) have impacted you and your community members, we encourage you to share your experiences with us. Be vigilant and tell us what you see, hear and experience at firstname.lastname@example.org.