Posted: Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Budgets are about choices, prioritizing one spending item over another. Funding tax cuts rather than public services, or flashy F-35s rather than social programs. The rather neutral language of budgeting can mask decidedly unbalanced effects of budgetary choices.
Neglecting a gender-based analysis is not just wrong, it’s inefficient, as gender neutral budgeting can ignore potentially fruitful investments, such as childcare, and work against other efforts to foster gender equality. Communities, families, women, and children do better when budgets consider gender impacts.
What’s behind the differential impact of budget choices?
Men and women have different labour patterns, which vary over the course of their lives. Men are more likely to work full-time, full-year, and women are more likely to alter their paid work to accommodate unpaid family responsibilities.
Twice as many women work part-time as men. 45% of men who work part-time are under the age of 25. Women part-time workers outnumber men part-time workers in every age group but 65+, where men slightly outnumber women.
Women’s reasons for working part-time are different from men’s. In 2011, 336,000 women aged 25 to 54 reported working part-time to accommodate unpaid labour responsibilities, such as childcare or eldercare. That is almost equal to the number of men the same age that work part-time for any reason (352,000), and it accounts for nearly one in three women in the core “working-age” group who work part-time.
Even when women work full-time, they tend to have fewer hours per week of paid work than men. While almost half of working men work a standard 40-hour work week, 40% of women work between 30 and 39 hours per week.