‘Holding Government to Account on Gender Equality: The experience of the UK Women’s Budget Group’
Since 1989, the UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG), a group of academics, activists and trade unionists, has tried to hold successive UK governments to account for the gender impact of their social and economic policies. This talk will highlight the highs and lows of this process under governments of different parties and in changing economic conditions. The WBG has also promoted gender budgeting more generally, including trying to persuade governments to do adequate equality impact assessment of their own policies. The talk will consider the advantages of having outside government bodies to hold government to account, as well as the difficulties in resourcing and sustaining such bodies. It will also comment on changing equality legislation in the UK and in Europe and what seems to have been more or less successful in reducing gender inequalities and promoting gender budgeting.
Susan Himmelweit is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Open University. Her research interests are in economic theory and policy relating to care, gender inequalities within households, and the gender implications of economic policy, including industrial policy. She was the founding Chair of the UK Women’s Budget Group, a think tank that analyses the gender impact of government policy. She has been an advisor for the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission as a member of its expert groups on “Working Better”, “Making Fair Financial Decisions” and “Cumulative Equality Impact Assessment”. She was the President of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) and an Associate Editor of its journal, Feminist Economics.
She is a co-author of two reports by the Women’s Budget Group for the International Trade Union Confederation and UN Women, on Investing in the Care Economy, both available at: http://www.ituc-csi.org/. Her latest book is Economics and Austerity in Europe: Gendered impacts and sustainable alternatives, co-edited with Hannah Bargawi and Giovanni Cozzi and published by Routledge (2016).