Macroeconomic policies are assumed to be ‘gender neutral’, but they impact on the distribution of unpaid work, the availability of jobs and the quality of public services, all with major implications for women. In recent years, austerity policies have led to cut-backs in essential public services and public sector employment, with disproportionate impacts on women.

What’s wrong with macroeconomic policy?

Macroeconomic policies tend to focus on a narrow set of goals, primarily keeping inflation low and raising the level of GDP. But gender equality and the realization of rights do not automatically follow from growth. We need to ask, what is the economy for? If the answer is, to expand women and men’s rights and opportunities, then things will need to change.

A rights-based macroeconomic policy agenda

Making economy policy subservient to human rights would mean prioritizing policies that:

  • Create stable economies that are less susceptible to crises
  • Generate decent employment opportunities, including for women
  • Raise enough resources, through progressive taxation and the elimination of tax avoidance, to fund social policies. Spending on social policies should be seen as an investment in strong and sustainable economies and societies.

Invest in social policies for strong and sustainable economies

Governments need revenue to pay for social policies and corporations must pay their fair share.
As well as eliminating tax avoidance, there are other ways of raising resources to fund essential infrastructure and public services: for example, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Mauritius and Sri Lanka have reduced spending on security and the military and redirected resources to fund social protection.