GCU researchers explore gender budgeting, devolution and austerity

27 April 2016

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) experts are hosting a two-day conference on gender analysis of policy and resource allocation at national levels, comparing and contrasting gender budgeting by governments in the UK  and Republic of Ireland and devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The conference keynote will be presented by Professor Diane Elson, Visiting Professor with the WiSE Research Centre at GCU, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, and Chair of the UK Women’s Budget Group (UKWBG). UKWBG is a voluntary network of researchers, trade unionists and feminist activists that analyses the impact of UK government budgets on gender equality and low income women.

The conference will bring together representatives from government across the devolved and national administrations, equality and human rights commissions, civil society and women’s budget groups in Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

Gender budgeting aims to raise awareness of the impact on women of publicly funded policies and programmes at national and local government levels.

Sessions will reflect on gender budgeting in the context of political change through devolution, austerity, local government cuts and welfare reform.

Since the formation of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive in 1999 there has been sustained effort to introduce and implement gender budget analysis in the Scottish budget process. GCU researchers have been involved in gender budgeting research and practice development for many years, developing approaches to gender budget analysis in Scotland and internationally. 

Dr Angela O’Hagan is a member of the Scottish Government Equality and Budgets Advisory Group, Convenor of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group and co-ordinates the European Gender Budgeting Network. Professor Ailsa McKay, founder of the WiSE Research Centre was a founding member of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group.

Researchers at the WiSE Research Centre have been awarded over £70,000 by the Scottish Government to further develop the University’s research programme on the interaction between gender and the economy, and separately to evaluate participatory budgeting activity in local authorities.

Dr O’Hagan said: “Gender budgeting is a really important tool for advancing gender equality. Understanding how budgets work is essential for women campaigning for change. For governments, effective analysis of the impact of spend and revenue decisions on women and men and understanding the different outcomes is essential if public resources are to be allocated in such a way that they can eliminate current discrimination and advance equality between women and men. 

“Scotland is ahead of the field in some ways, with the production of the Equality Budget Statement.  There’s still a long way to go in terms of effective policy responses. Bringing together the perspectives of government, feminist academics and activists to share learning and knowledge will be a great boost for all those involved in this challenging approach to policy change. ”

The conference will take place in Room 6 of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) Building at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) on May 19 and 20.