Gender Mainstreaming: A New Paradigm For Effective Policy Making
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
Gender Mainstreaming 101
What are the most important issues candidates and policymakers should support to improve gender equality?
I love this question because it points to the centrality of gender mainstreaming. From a policy perspective, all roads that lead to better, more equitable outcomes must cross paths with gender and race/ethnicity. This is the crux of gender mainstreaming.
Instead of thinking about gender equity issues singularly, we need to take a step back to see the complete picture. And that is:
Nearly all policy issues can become pro-gender equity when we view them through the intersectional gender lens.
Taxes, unemployment, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, foreign policy, our economic recovery — all these issues and more matter to gender equity because they impact us to varying degrees.
The intersectional gender lens helps us account for these varying degrees of impact to inform better policymaking.
Gender Mainstreaming In Action
Consider the most recent economic data we have: the September jobs report. At first glance, we see that nonfarm payrolls rose by 661,000 in September and unemployment fell to 7.9%. Using this high-level data, how might our policymakers craft legislation to strengthen our economy?
It seems like we need more information before we can answer that question.
So what if we apply the intersectional gender lens to the September jobs report to obtain this additional information?
Here’s what we find:
- While overall unemployment sits at 7.9%, women’s unemployment is 8%, Black women’s unemployment is 11.1%, and Latina’s unemployment is 11% (up from 10.5% in August).
- Of the more than 1.1 million workers who dropped out of the labor force (i.e. they are not working nor looking for work) last month, 865,000 were women and 216,000 were men.
- Of those 865,000 women who dropped out of the labor force, 324,000 were Latina and 58,000 were Black.
We could go on and on with this type of intersectional gender analysis of the data from the jobs report (or any report), but the point is clear:
The insights uncovered by disaggregating data by gender and race/ethnicity provide a more complete picture of what’s happening in our country. This more complete picture is the starting point to create better, more equitable policies across all verticals.
From here we can begin to ask questions on why differences in, for example, unemployment exist across gender and race/ethnicity. Then we can craft specific policies, adjust existing policies, or reallocate resources to fill in the gaps.
This is gender mainstreaming in action. It’s an intuitive, structural approach to public policy and we need more of it.
To learn more about gender mainstreaming (and see it integrated into 15 of this year’s most pressing election issues), access the 2020 Gender Equity Voting Guide here.