Guest Blog by Professor Kirstein Rummery, University of Stirling
Guest blogger, feminist social policy scholar Kirstein Rummery reports on the second of three seminars in the series Constitutional Futures: Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland.
Great time at the recent session on Scotland’s economy and gender equality (or the lack of it). Interesting lessons from the wider UK on the differential impact the austerity regime is having on men and women from Claire Annesley and Diane Elson (UK Women’s Budget Group), plus some really fascinating insights into Scotland’s position from Mike Danson (Heriot Watt), Ailsa McKay (WiSE), Ann Henderson and Stephen Boyd (STUC), Gary Gillespie (Scottish Government) and others.
Key issues for me were the connections between the first seminar on ‘care’ and this one on the economy. The first seminar, having looked at Nordic regimes with more egalitatarian gender societies, concluded that there was a link between gender equality and investing in childcare and longterm care services. It’s important to see these things as a part of social rights, as part of the fabric of a society. It’s also important to have things like the right to receive care, and having giving care recognised properly, as being part of the constitutional framework for any society that wants to consider itself fair and prosperous. But how do we link that to the economy, and sustainable growth and prosperity?
The key seems to be to understanding care as part of the formal and informal economy, to move beyond seeing it as something private and unpaid, or public and underpaid. It needs to be seen as an economic and social investment for the following reasons:
- Because it is the kind of work we value as a society
- Because it enables children and young people to thrive and reach their potential
- Because it enables people to contribute to the market economy
- Because it enables people to contribute to wider society which is just as important as the market economy
There were lots of key points made about the challenges that means Scotland faces as a society, from both academics, politicians, civil servants and people working in organisations interested in gender and Scottish society. Whilst there was a feeling that we have heard some of this evidence before, there were also new and exciting challenges and possibilities, such as:
- How do we get academics, policy makers, practitioners and campaigners working more effectively in partnership to raise these issues?
- How do we get an alternative vision for Scotland’s future which treats the economy as a means to get to a fairer, happier and wealthier society?
- How do we get wider society to care about these issues and hold their politicians and civic society to account?
- Neither ‘Better Together’ nor ’Yes Scotland’ -the campaigns for and against Scottish independence – is articulating these issues. Why not?
And this leads us on rather neatly to a plug for the next session: What is the connection between women’s political participation and the experience of care, economic (in)dependence and work? What opportunities do current debates about constitutional futures present?
Registration is now open for the third seminar which examines constitutional change, including women’s political representation.
To attend the seminar register at the link below