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Engender pays tribute to Professor Ailsa McKay: feminist economist, sister, and friend

The Engender staff and board are sad to have lost a sister, friend, and inspirational feminist economist in Professor Ailsa McKay.

Ailsa had a profound effect on the community of women in Scotland who work for gender equality. She founded the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, which campaigned for a gender budget analysis of the Scottish Budget. She established the Women in Scotland’s Economy Research Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. She was an internationally acclaimed academic, who convened conferences in Glasgow that brought together the finest feminist economists in the world.

Despite the demands of this work, Ailsa remained intensely interested in, and supportive of, campaigning work to achieve change. She was a mentor to younger economists, a generous adviser to women’s organisations and initiatives, and was dedicated to building understanding of economics in activists across Scotland in weekend schools. She often quoted Joan Robinson, saying, “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”

Ailsa found time to contribute significantly to the work of Engender. She spoke at our International Women’s Day Conferences, in front of hundreds of women, but she also spoke at small Saturday morning events as our members grappled with ideas about the future Scotland in which they wish to live. She believed in reaching beyond the bubble of economics, parliamentary politics, and academia, to inform and engage with women in communities across Scotland.

The work and friendship of this vibrant, brilliant woman has resonated in our work and in our lives. We will miss her.

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