Gender budgeting – Counting the Cost

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2015 National Women's Conference
15 October 2014

Since June 2010, austerity policies have reduced employment opportunities for women, who make up the majority of workers in the public sector, where wages have been frozen and jobs lost, and making it harder to combine earning a living and taking care of families.

The Treasury says that “we are all in this together” yet research published by the House of Commons Library showed that 80% of the revenue raised through changes in the tax and benefit strategy since 2010 has come from women’s pockets. For the first time in five years the gender pay gap has widened. Women’s unemployment is still 50% higher than its pre-crisis level (men’s is 41% higher) while long-term unemployment for women continues to rise overall and at a faster rate among women than men.

Overall the government’s austerity measures have exacerbated inequality between men and women and this does not arise from any economic imperative but reflects a policy choice.

This conference applauds the work of UNISON for publishing ‘Counting the Cost, how cuts are shrinking women’s lives’ in June 2014. This information is hugely important in for raising awareness amongst our women members and in encouraging an increase in women’s political activism and in encouraging them to call for a change to such gendered economic decisions.

In undertaking this work, UNISON has collaborated with The Women’s Budget Group (WBG). This is a voluntary network of people from women’s organisations, trade unions and universities that examines the gender equality impact of government budgets. It has already produced a toolkit for women’s groups ‘Women and local cuts, Challenging Gender Equality Impact Assessments & Local Government Budgets’ which provides clear information and ideas.

We call on the National Women’s Committee to

1) Continue to support and work collaboratively with the Women’s Budget Group

2) Commission new research and to work with the WBG to develop training courses and education materials around this subject.

3) Work with Regional Women’s Committees and groups to publicise the research findings, training course and education materials produced.

4) Report back to our 2016 conference