How to Bounce Back Quicker from this Economic Crisis: Ask Policymakers to Practice Gender Budgeting
In a few sentences, you’ll understand why gender budgeting is perhaps the most intuitive tool in our policymakers’ toolbox and why we need to ensure they put it to work immediately.
What is Gender Budgeting?
(To jump straight to the instructions on how you can be part of the solution, scroll down to the section “How You Can Help: 5 Easy Steps.”)
Gender budgeting (also referred to as gender mainstreaming or gender-sensitive budgeting), is an approach to crafting fiscal policy that acknowledges the unique needs of men and women.
In the US, most fiscal policy is gender-blind. That is, we forget to apply the gender lens to determine how policies related to taxation and spending impact men and women differently.
Gender budgeting benefits the economy because it ensures that we allocate resources efficiently and sustainably. It benefits everyone: men, women, and those who identify as other. And as we respond to COVID-19, gender budgeting is one of the sharpest tools our elected officials have in their fiscal policy toolbox.
Why Gender Budgeting Now?
Gender budgeting matters now more than ever because women will bear the brunt of the coronavirus financial crisis. Unless we act swiftly.
1. Women are more likely to work in low-wage jobs.
In the US, 62% of minimum-wage and lower-wage workers are female. These low-wage jobs were among the first to be cut in response to necessary social distancing measures. For those fortunate enough to still have their wage work, benefits such as healthcare, paid sick leave, and paid family leave are hard to come by. At a time when we are experiencing a global health crisis, now is not the time to be without benefits such as these.
2. Women are more likely to work in unpaid jobs.
Cooking, cleaning, and care-taking responsibilities largely fall on the shoulders of women. The average US woman performs 241 minutes of unpaid domestic labor every day, whereas the average US man spends 145 minutes per day on domestic work. With 95% of the US population ordered to stay at home and schools in 86% of states closed, the burden of the “second shift” has become even more burdensome.
3. Women are paid less.
For every one dollar men earn, women earn 82 cents. That 18 cent discrepancy represents the aggregate gender pay gap. It adds up to an annual loss of $10,122 for women. If we add race and ethnicity to the mix, the gender pay gap usually widens. The average working Latina, for instance, will lose $1,121,440 of wages in her lifetime. The pay inequity women experience stems from larger, more systemic issues such as inequity of opportunity and upward mobility. (Example: For every 100 men promoted to a managerial role, only 68 Latinas are promoted.)
How You Can Help: 5 Easy Steps
Economic stimulus is still forthcoming, and gender budgeting can help get vital resources into the hands of our nation’s most vulnerable.
Note: this is not a handout. This is an investment in our collective economic recovery. Closing the gender equity gap in the US could expand our nation’s GDP by $2 trillion, and gender budgeting is a key lever we can pull to close the gap.
You can be part of the solution by urging your elected representatives to practice gender budgeting. This would ensure that all members of society benefit equitably from future policy solutions. Follow these five steps to get started today.
2️⃣ Call your Senators and Representatives to request a meeting. You want to discuss the urgency of gender budgeting so that forthcoming fiscal policy is equitable, efficient, and benefits all members of society.
3️⃣ Provide the following policy suggestions as examples. You may also wish to use the “Additional Resources” at the bottom of this page.
COVID-19 Policy Suggestions
- Table 2020 tax payments for those who owe less than $1 million.
- Reduce mortgage interest rates, increase refinancing, and prohibit evictions. 30% of solo mothers live in poverty.
- Forgive student loan payments for at least one year. Women hold 67% of student debt.
- Offer income- and family-based payments, or universal basic income. Women and children represent 70% of our nation’s poor.
- Expand paid sick leave and paid caregiver leave to all workers. Women provide more unpaid caregiving responsibilities than men.
- Use the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act to provide skills training to retrain workers for the digital economy. Millions of workers have already lost their jobs, and COVID-19 has accelerated the future of work.
4️⃣ Remind your representatives that applying the race and ethnicity lens can further guide them to allocate resources effectively. We already know that the pay gap widens for women of color, putting them in an even more vulnerable position during these adverse economic times. (White women lose $10,122 per year, black women lose $23,653 per year, and Latinas lose $28,036 per year as a result of the gender pay gap.) And now we have data showing how COVID-19 is killing black Americans at a “disproportionately high rate.” Intersectionality matters as we fight to contain the spread of the pandemic and its financial fallout.
5️⃣ Call back weekly until you have resolution on your requests.
We are in the middle of battling the health- and financial-consequences of the coronavirus. Now is not the time to leave 51% of our population behind.
- Report: Gender Mainstreaming Voting Guide
- Interview: If we don’t act fast, women will bear the brunt of the financial crisis caused by coronavirus
- Article: Why women will be hardest hit by a coronavirus-driven recession
- Article: Could COVID-19 Make Gender-Mainstreaming Ubiquitous in Public Policy?
- Article: Amid Coronavirus, Here’s How You Can Be a Hero from Your House
This article was originally published on my website.