“The trouble with gender economics”, The Guardian 2011

reblogged from The Guardian

Original Post by

Thursday 19 May 2011 01.59 EST

At a global summit in Paris, France, MPs from around the world argued that investing in girls can spur economic growth. But the economic case for gender equality has its critics

MDG : Young girl in class at Makuyuni school in the Monduli District, Tanzania, Africa.

Young girls attend Makuyuni school in the Monduli District, Tanzania, Africa. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Family planning is notoriously one of the most politicised and divisive issues in development debates, and gender equality one of the most neglected. But over the past few years, advocates for both have emerged from across the political spectrum and from some of the most unlikely sources – including the World Bank. This week, a diverse group of parliamentarians from around the world gathered at the French Assemblée Nationale before next week’s G8 summit, calling for a special focus on the 600 million girls and young women in developing countries around the world.

Organised by the European parliamentary forum on population and development (EPF), the summit brought together parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including the UK Liberal Democrat Jenny Tonge, French Socialist Philippe Tourtelier, and George Tsereteli, a centre-right MP from Georgia. EPF secretary Neil Datta argues that “each political party has a value base that can be supportive of reproductive health”, and that the trick is to mobilise support without politicising debate. Above all, it’s the economic case for supporting girls – popularised by the social media-savvy “Girl Effect” campaign and promoted by the World Bank – that is bringing unexpected allies to the table.

According to Gill Greer, director-general of the International planned parenthood federation, every year a girl spends in secondary school pushes her future wages up by 15-20%, and women generally re-invest 90% of their earnings in their communities. The World Bank agrees, and has thus decided to back programmes focusing conditional cash transfers on women, and providing vouchers to employers who hire women. For the bank’s expert on gender, Mayra Buvinic, investing in girls is simply “smart economics.” For Greer, the argument that investment in the rights and health of girls can spur economic growth provides a powerful tool for advocates seeking consensus on politically sensitive issues such as reproductive health. And according to Datta, arguments about the economic benefits of gender equality, reproductive health, and family planning have helped to garner cross-party support in donor countries including Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands.

But making women work for the market is not the same thing as making markets work for women, and the economic argument for investing in girls is not without its critics. Earlier this year, a debate about the Girl Effect campaign rippled across the development blogosphere, sparked in part by a provocative critique on Aid Watch. Guest blogger Anna Carella argued that the Girl Effect plays into stereotypes of women as natural caregivers and reinforces perceptions of “women’s work” and “men’s work”. It further neglects crucial macroeconomic issues and prioritises the wellbeing of the economy over the wellbeing of women, she said. “While this campaign seems like a godsend for those who have been working to improve the lives of women, it may actually be damaging to women.”

Meanwhile, Elaine Zuckerman, a former World Bank economist, has taken aim at the bank’s gender action plan and policy, criticising its dismissal of human rights and arguing that the “business case for gender equality” only perpetuates the bank’s neo-liberal agenda. And for Datta, the risk is that programmes favouring quick fixes will win over long-term strategies to tackle deep-rooted power relations that require generations to surmount.

All of this leaves global gender advocates in a tricky position. They have an argument that has garnered unprecedented support for traditionally neglected issues and divisive debates. Linking gender equality with economic growth offers a convincing argument at a time when budget cuts and austerity talk put NGOs and aid agencies under enormous pressure to provide innovative approaches to entrenched development issues. And it’s an agenda that shows no sign of losing steam. Next year, the World Bank will dedicate its flagship World Development Report to gender equality. And the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) fund, which provides soft loans and grants to the poorest countries, has made gender equality one if its four priority themes. But to benefit from this unprecedented focus without seeing stickier issues slip off the agenda – such as the hard-to-measure but crucial issues of women’s rights, empowerment, and long-term generational change – is no small task. Without a doubt, this is a debate to watch.

• This article was amended on 20 May 2011. The original referred to Elaine Zuckerman as an economist from the World Bank’s independent evaluation group. This has been corrected.

See original article here, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/may/18/difficult-issue-gender-economics

 

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A Solution For A Struggling Global Economy: Gender Equality

Article 10/14/2011 @ 5:06PM |5,063 views

2011 Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

2011 Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

By Ritu Sharma and Joe Keefe

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their courageous work promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. In awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee stated that democracy and peace cannot be achieved unless women have the same opportunities and rights as men.

They might have added that without gender equality sustainable economic development cannot be achieved either. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that women are the key to a global economic recovery.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chairing the first-ever Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High-Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy, made this point emphatically: “By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies.”

In her remarks, Secretary Clinton recounted some of the evidence: The Economist found that the increase in employment of women in developed economies during the past decade contributed more to global growth than did China. In the U.S., a McKinsey study found that women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48% over the past 40 years, and that the productivity gains attributable to this modest increase in women’s share of the labor market now accounts for approximately 25% of U.S. GDP. That works out to over $3.5 trillion – more than the GDP of Germany and more than half the GDPs of China and Japan.”

TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE CLICK HERE

References

http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeswomanfiles/2011/10/14/a-solution-for-a-struggling-global-economy-gender-equality/

Why Gender Equality is important to our economic future

Conference on Gender Equality in Government an...

Conference on Gender Equality in Government and Business – MENA Initiative (Photo credit: OECD)

Gender Equality is important, particularly in terms of gender diversity and seeing more women in leadership.  Women make up up more than half the population in most countries, except for India and China (United Nations 2010; pg. vii) where there are more men than women, effectively creating a greater number of men worldwide.  Women are the back bone of support structures in most situations (some without choice), and are the target of marketers of consumer products, yet they do not have full representation at executive manager and board level in most organizations.

It is imperative that women claim their voice, as equal citizens, as company directors and policy makers to shape a future for our children that is inclusive and not exclusive.  Gender diversity is here,  and is rightfully being recognized as a way to improve economic outcomes by tapping into creativity, innovation and a thinking pattern outside the norm.   Gender diversity programs offer organizations a mechanism to reach female resource’s that are often hidden in supporting roles where they are merely supporters of strategy instead of the instigators or collaborators of organisational strategy.

Greater gender diversity will allow many women to input directly into our economic future as decision makers and leaders, and not be restricted to indirectly impacting the economy by being consumers and supporters.  The parenting and care giver role, traditionally attributed to female’s need not be barriers to a women’s progression to leadership roles, or economic burdens if we value those roles.  The burden of childcare still falls to many women,  often by choice, but this can also create perceived barriers to  their career advancement or their ability to have agency over themselves and their own choices.

Very often the female’s wage is seen as the ‘second income’ for a family – or the ‘little job’ as many women refer to it, so it becomes a gender issue for a couple of reasons, but most notably because in our society like most others, the idea of women as primary care givers of children reinforces the idea of a gendered role for women. Of course, both men and women can look after children, but way back in about 1890 in Australia the start of wage inequality happened with policies developed specifically to discourage women from re entering the workforce. Some of this lead to the separation of roles (market separation) and the feminizing of parts of the workforce.  Once a part of the work effort became feminized and primarily performed by women, the wage could be lowered and these female workers could be paid much less than men – since it was believed that they could only ever make a small contribution to the family income because it was well known at the time (by the men making the policy) that men were the ‘breadwinners’.

Around this time, 1907 (the Harvester Judgement), the then President of the Australian Arbitration Court, Henry Borne Higgins devised the “living wage’ that was based on what he determined to be the minimum amount required for a man with a wife and 3 children to “keep himself and his family in frugal comfort” (MacIntyre 1985, pg; 55).  Mr Justice Higgins based his calculations on his expectation that all adults would marry, and that men were always the primary wage earners.  This is important because some of  that thinking is alive and well in the minds of our policy makers today.

Most notable being ex Australian Prime Minister John Howard who put many women offside because of his strong views about a woman’s place in the home. Current Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott often expresses similar views and consequently women have to constantly fight legislation that tries to erode their ability to work outside the home. The most obvious place that this happens is in the cost of childcare. For a average young family in Australia where the male earns a take home pay of $600, the second income, usually the female’s is capped at around $400 take home (after tax).  Anything over this means that they lose any child care subsidy that they currently have, meaning that for the female to go back to full time work, they need to earn a substantial income to cover the costs of full time childcare which can be anything from $80+ per day. When you start to do the sums, she is almost better to stay at home, which some believe is the purpose of the policy. I wouldn’t like to say that, however there are issues with this way of creating policy that I think is pretty shortsighted and entrenched in the patriarchal and religious belief’s of  less enlightened times.

Another problem for single mothers is that this same system can just encourage a cash economy as they struggle to get a second income to try and get ahead. Whilst they are stuck in low paying, casual jobs, many of them are losing their skill currency and this is what is costing our economy money, because they are not working to their full potential. Many are lost to their earlier careers, often finding it hard to get back into the same employment after taking time out for child care, meaning that the valuable input of talented women is being lost to our organisations and ultimately our economy.

References

MacIntyre, Stuart (1985) ‘A fair wage’ in Winners and Losers: The Pursuit of Social Justice in Australian History, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, Ch.3, pp. 51-58 (excerpt)

United Nations Statistics Division (2010), ‘The Worlds Women, Trends and Statistics’, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, ST/ESA/STAT/SER.K/19,United Nations publication,Sales No. E.10.XVII.11 downloaded 5/04/2013, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf

Diversity Program Review Framework

Susanne Moore

As part of my study into the “Profit Impact of Organisational Gender Diversity Programs”, I am developing a Diversity Program Review Framework during my Identification Phase which is Phase 2 of the 5 project phases.

Here is some information on the current Phase;

2. Identification

Example tasks include;

  • Identify all available metrics, benchmarks, targets, quotas and program deliverables
  • Identification of existing and planned frameworks within Diversity and Inclusion programs including, employee self service, human resource policy, financial measurements
  • Identify program reviews for effectiveness and suitability for linking to business benefits
  • MAJOR OUTPUTA Diversity Program Review Framework, measuring both the program’s standalone effectiveness from a program management perspective, and assesses the viability of program’s data for further research

The Framework and the resulting reviews are vitally important to the research and I am looking for organisation’s that would be interested in allowing me to trial the review…

View original post 137 more words

New [Australian] gender equality law a step closer.

 

Gender Equality that looks at the issues of equality across genders is a smart way to change workplaces and to offer greater flexibility and choice to employee’s in our workplaces.  It also helps to promote a positive workplace, increasing employee satisfaction and ultimately employee motivation and engagement.

This article is copied from the Australian Government‘s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace (EOWA) website

“New gender equality law a step closer

19 June 2012

  • Focus on equal pay between men and women

  • More flexibility to allow men to share family/caring responsibilites

  • Shift from equal opportunity for women to gender equality

A new law to promote gender equality in Australian workplaces is a step closer following the passage of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 through the House of Representatives late yesterday.

Helen Conway, Director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) said the proposed legislation will promote equal remuneration between women and men. The changes will also encourage organisations to allow men, as well as women, to work flexibly to meet family and caring responsibilities.

“We need to lift the participation rate of women in the workforce by removing existing disincentives. Our national productivity and competitiveness depends on it. In our workplaces, it is time we stopped paying lip service to gender equality and actually did something about it,” Ms Conway said.

The legislation will see EOWA renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, reflecting a shift in focus from equal opportunity for women to equality between the genders.

“The proposed amendments are the result of an extensive review and consultation process with stakeholders including employers, business groups, employee organisations and women’s groups. The Agency looks forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to achieve better gender equality outcomes for women and men,” Ms Conway said.

The Bill must now be passed by the Senate before becoming law.”

REFERENCES

http://www.eowa.gov.au/Information_Centres/Media_Centre/Media_Releases/190612_New_Gender_Equality_Law_a_Step_Closer.asp

 

Gender Equality: A Good Investment

 

Melanne Verveer the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues speaks about Gender Equality being not just the ‘right choice, but the smart choice’ to grow our economies.   She talks about research that has shown where the gap between male and female equality has been closed, those countries are far more economically prosperous and see an ‘enhancement to economic action’.

She further points out that studies have shown that women invest their income in far greater numbers into education, in activities that benefits children and the community, and concludes that this can only benefit all society.

see the video here Gender Equality: A Good Investment

References;

Posted on the Women’s Center on 3 November 2011.

 

 

 

Gender Diversity Research – “The effectiveness (or otherwise) of organisational gender diversity program’s on profit”

NEXT FOCUS GROUP SYDNEY MONDAY 20 AUGUST 6-8PM

As part of my Sociology degree I have commenced a year-long research project. The subject will be on “The effectiveness (or otherwise) of organisational gender diversity program’s on profit”  to see if we can come up with some metrics and measurements for quantifying the value of a gender diverse workforce on bottom line profitability.  Diversity programs are undertaken in many organizations in a bid to attract and keep senior women in leadership and although we know there are clear advantages, much of the information is empirical or intangible and difficult to measure under current business structures.

This is the first part of the study to test the theory and viability of further research into Gender Economics and Diversity Economics.

To book, please CONTACT ME

MORE INFORMATION ON MY RESEARCH

Gender Economics and Diversity for Organisations

Gender Economics is an emerging field of study, with the 2012  international conference now under way in Spain.  Gender Economics encourages organisations, and indeed countries to use all the resources available to them across both gender and diversity to improve economies, improve profitability and market share.

Many organisations in Australia recognise the positive and enriching qualities of ‘diversity’ and many of these organisations are also at the forefront of the gender equality issue.   Westpac Bank has already done a lot of work around gender equality and diversity and continues to promote initiatives that increase leadership opportunities for women in senior management.  However, there are other organisations that pay ‘lip service’ to diversity, flexibility and gender equality, yet these same organisations still qualify as a “Women’s Employer of Choice”.

True diversity and gender equality doesn’t just fit into the normalised view of a ‘gender stereotype’ for female friendly workplaces, like nursing stations and flexible working hours. Whilst these facilities are great regardless of gender, it is still in senior management that we see discrimination and “Boys Club” practices at work.  If we changed the structure of our workplaces as well as the way that they run many would attract and keep more senior women.  For example, developing alternative value measurements for success, true workplace audits that dig deep to name “Boys Club” practices and move away from what we are socially conditioned to believe women want in the workplace.  In my experience the single most destructive element that prevents women remaining in and moving into leadership roles is the “Boys Club” element and the way both women and men support it.  How can an organisation that purports to be a “Women’s Employer of Choice”, be serious when all its Board members are male?   By which standard is the organisation developing its criteria to promote women?  How can a patriarchal, primarily white male, Anglo-Saxon board structure really identify the needs and aspirations of the diverse groups of people in their organisation?

Gender Economics aims to develop these new metrics for success.  Metrics that make sure that women and minorities have a direct impact on the economy and not an indirect impact on the economy via consumerism and social dependency.   Not only would your organisation benefit by tapping into more resources, and advancing more women into leadership roles,  I believe that Gender Economics will deliver greater access to a diverse customer base by understanding alternative measures of ‘value’ against revenue.

Gender Diversity makes a difference to the ‘bottom line’

Diversity makes a difference, see the latest research by WOB (Women on Boards). Article By Claire Braund on  17 February 2012 in the Australian Mining Magazine and Shared by Dorothy Jakab and 1 more in WOB Women on Boards via LinkedIn.

The article notes some important statistics which make a strong case for an increase in women’s representation on boards and leadership positions;

“In 2004 the US-based non-profit organisation Catalyst created the link between female board directors and corporate performance in its report ‘The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation of Boards’.

The report found higher financial performance for companies with higher representation of women board directors in three important measures – return on equity, return on sales and return on invested capital.

Fast forward to Australia in October 2011 and the non-profit research organisation Reibey Institute found that over three and five year periods, ASX500 companies with women directors delivered significantly higher return on equity (ROE) than those companies without any women on their boards.

In between 2004 and 2011 there were a number of significant studies and reports successfully prosecuting the business case for recruiting and retaining women into senior leadership roles and onto boards.”

The article further discusses the need for a full utilisation of all human resources, male and female in reference to the current resource shortage in the Australian Mining Industry where good resources are hard to come by.

“In Australia, this will require a significant shift in corporate culture and in the attitudes and behavior of many who occupy positions of power.

The mining sector is a dominant player in the Australian economy with major human resource demands. Surely, of all sectors it should be the one that understands the importance of a fully deployed labour force and the business benefits that diversity brings?”

Economically, Gender Diversity makes sense.

References:  Australian Mining Magazine

Gender economics in the Guardian Saturday 10 July 2010

Women suffer more than most when government cuts budgets.   The impact is greater on women, as there are larger numbers of women who are unpaid carers, or work in casual lower paid work.   They are hardest hit by cuts to transport and support services when they occur.  In reality, most will work longer hours to make up the deficit in one way or another.  Whether that be overtime to increase wages or ferrying those in their care to support services using their own private vehicles instead of public transport.

Sadly, the real impact of this extra burden won’t be measured as much of it will be done outside working hours by unpaid carers, or as extra effort over and above paid working time.

[read the article]