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