Scottish Government spending could deepen women’s equality in Scotland
Women’s equality organisations have written to John Swinney urging the Scottish Government to understand how budget proposals affect women and men differently.
Without this, they say, Scottish Government spending could deepen women’s equality in Scotland, and have a particularly damaging impact on disabled and BME women.
The letter, signed by organisations including Scottish Women’s Aid and Amina the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, calls on the Scottish Government to consider the diverse realities of women’s lives when making budget decisions, and to target funds where they are needed most.
Sara Cowen of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group said: “Gender budget analysis is a crucial process to ensure budget decision making is fair and works to tackle systemic inequalities. As the costs keep rising and national budgets are strained, we must ensure this analysis takes place. It is crucial in understanding the differing impacts of decisions on women and men, both positive or negative, as well as different groups of women to avoid baking in inequality.
“We are calling on the Scottish Government to publish its analysis alongside the budget decisions to help people understand the differing impacts that decisions may have.”
The letter sets out numerous ways in which women and girls will be disproportionately impacted by the cost of living crisis, including facing higher energy costs, being less financially able to leave an abusive situation, and undertaking the majority of unpaid care and household management.
Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of Close the Gap said: “Women’s unequal position in the labour market is a key reason they’re hardest hit by the cost of living crisis. Women’s financial resilience is constrained by their propensity to be in low-paid, insecure work and the gendered barriers they face to increasing their working hours.
“Spiralling costs have pushed many more women into desperate situations. Scottish Government has laudable ambitions on women’s equality, and we urge them to realise this by integrating gender in crisis responses to prevent a rising tide of poverty for women.”
The organisations point out that it is not just individual women who will bear the brunt of the cost of living crisis, but that it will have a devastating impact on Scotland’s aspirations to achieve gender equality.
Engender’s executive director Catherine Murphy added: “Women in Scotland are facing crisis after crisis. From the devastating impacts of austerity, to the Covid-19 pandemic, and now this cost of living crisis – women bear the brunt. The impact this has on women’s equality cannot be underestimated, and the ripples of budget decisions made now will continue to be felt for generations to come.
"If the Scottish Government wants to stop this, they must scrutinise the impacts of the budget decisions to allocate spending across portfolios to prevent poverty, destitution and insecurity for women, children and other marginalised groups.”