women left behind despite emphasis on well-being
Finance Minister Grant Robertson called it a stimulus budget for “all New Zealanders”. But was it an inclusive budget? Specifically, what has the 2021 budget offered to women who have been significantly affected by job losses resulting from COVID-19?
the budget priorities included a goal of “supporting employment for those most affected by COVID-19, including women and youth.” Yet in the budget speechRobertson has not announced any explicit initiative for women workers.
Indeed, as was the case in 2020, the focus was on physical infrastructure – building hospitals, schools, homes, roads, railroads and a refurbished Scott base. Around 221,000 jobs are planned as a result, some of which are tied to this four-year NZ $ 57.3 billion capital investment.
Such spending initiatives are not gender neutral. Our highly by gender labor market means that this investment is likely to generate many more jobs for men than for women.
Despite the extension of the Training incentive allowance to higher qualifications and targeted programs such as Tupu Aotearoa for the peoples of the Pacific, there was no mention of support to increase the number of women in the trades.
Some initiatives are already in place, but the evidence shows desegregation of labor markets is not an easy task. This is often a highly unbalanced process. Women are encouraged in predominantly male occupations, but not the other way around.
The emphasis on construction should not prevent investment in the care economy. The latter is just as likely as construction to lead to economic growth. Research also shows that women need child care to support their participation in the labor market, and that increasing child care spaces increases jobs (usually for women).
Australia does better for women
The lack of a gender perspective puts New Zealand behind the Conservative government in Australia. Scott Morrison’s federal budget, released two weeks ago, was accompanied by a Women’s Budget Statement. New spending initiatives focused on women’s economic security, safety, health and well-being.
The statement included a series of statistical evidence supporting the government’s decision to invest in social infrastructure. In addition, new funds have been allocated for women to enter STEM careers and fund more services for women entering the trades.
At the same time, frontline services for victims of domestic violence received a cash injection and AU $ 16.6 million was committed to support a National Strategy for Women’s Health (over four years).
Read more: New Zealand’s 2021 budget: billions more for benefits, but an eye on the results
Obviously, Morrison’s was an election budget. To get to the polls later this year, and to get a win, he needs to improve on an early backlash from voters horrified by the allegations of sexual assault, intimidation and discrimination within his own party.
Women also criticized being largely overlooked Budget 2020, which focused on growing male-dominated industries.
Morrison may not be comparable to Jacinda Ardern in terms of feminist leanings, but her minister for women, charged with championing women’s budget declaration, is Senator Marise Payne, Australian Foreign Minister and liberal feminist.
Some Australian commentators argue that the budget offers for women have not gone far enough. But it certainly seems to be more gender sensitive than what we witnessed in New Zealand on Thursday afternoon.
Gender must be at the heart of planning
So what do Ardern and Robertson need to change to ensure that our progressive approach to wellness is inclusive of women?
Mainstreaming gender analysis into all portfolios, so that the budget process becomes more responsive to the needs of different groups of women and men, would be a good place to start.
Major international organizations, including OECD, IMF and the The United Nations, promote the economic and social value gender responsive budgeting. Canada, Iceland and a number of other OECD countries have made significant progress in integrating gender-based analysis into all aspects of new and existing spending.
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Three elements are necessary for a successful implementation. First, a high-level strategy to ensure that analysts take gender into account in their day-to-day practice in government (including budgeting).
Second, provide tools, training and disaggregated data to support this analysis (like ours “Bring in the genre“And the tool Integrated data infrastructure). Third, work with parliament and civil society organizations to foster collaboration and accountability.
However, implementing a gender responsive budgeting process also requires political will to ensure that officials embrace this work. Adopting a well-being approach, using the Treasury Living standards framework and He Ara Waiora, represents a good first step. But to ensure that budget outcomes are fair and that resources are shared with all New Zealanders, gender analysis is essential throughout the budget process.
International evidence suggests that implementation is not always easy. However, without gender responsive budgeting, the gendered nature of public spending will remain invisible. This will harm the well-being of the economy and reduce inequalities.