The cost of living crisis is a crisis for women's equality

The Cost of Living Crisis is a crisis for women's equality

The cost of living crisis is an issue which is profoundedly gendered. This blog, containing extracts taken from our submissions to the Scottish Government sets out some of the ways that the cost of living crisis is also a crisis for women's equality.

Women in Scotland are and will be disproportionately impacted by the cost of living crisis, with acute ramifications in terms of economic and physical security, health and wellbeing. This is the result of existing economic inequality that repeatedly sees women, and especially minoritised groups of women, at the sharp end of economic and other crises.

The disastrous forecast for the rate of inflation cannot be divorced from the egregious impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on equality, which has already placed women at greater risk of economic insecurity. A rollback on women’s rights and equality is widely recognised, with specific issues and their ongoing implications manifesting for Black and minority ethnic women, young women, disabled women, unpaid carers, mothers, pregnant women, LGBT women, and women with insecure immigration status, amongst other groups. Against this baseline, the current cost of living crisis will further exacerbate women’s economic inequality, pushing many into poverty. The harm this will cause will resound throughout the course of women’s lives and those of their children.

Some key factors which mean the crisis will have a disproportionate impact on women include:

• Soaring energy bills will have an enormous impact on women; women make up the majority of many groups with high energy needs, including older people, disabled people, unpaid carers, and those looking after children in the home.

• Lone parents, 91% of whom are women, are set to experience the steepest hikes as a proportion of disposable income and are amongst those at the sharpest end of rising fuel insecurity.

• Women experiencing domestic abuse are unable to leave abusive partners due to financial implications and economic coercive control; 73% said the cost of living crisis had prevented them from leaving their abusive partner or would make it harder to do so.

• Women are the majority of those in temporary work and on zero-hours contracts in Scotland, many of whom will face or worry about unemployment, underemployment or negative mental health impacts associated with precarious work as businesses struggle with rising costs.

• Women tend to act as managers of household budgets, particularly with regards to spending on children and non-durable items like food and domestic products that are susceptible to price hikes during periods of inflation. Women are therefore disproportionately exposed to the strain and anxiety of budgeting, including for energy bills, with clear implications for health and wellbeing. Women are more likely to have fallen behind with bills and to have skipped meals due to rising costs.

• Spiralling fuel costs may see women in remote and rural areas at risk of further isolation and gendered impacts on their safety and security. Women are less likely to own and drive cars than men, partly due to prohibitive costs; this may be exacerbated. Women will also, therefore, be disproportionately impacted by any public transport route changes and cancellations due to operating costs.

These are just some of the ways that the cost of living crisis will impact on women, and women's equality - any response must be similarly gendered or it will simply entrench and deepen inequality. Alongside our existing advocacy work for women's equality and poverty reduction, we are calling for Scottish Government to apply robust budget gender analysis to the forthcoming Emergency Budget Review, as well as all resource allocation and revenue raising aimed at tackling the costs crisis. You can read our Parliamentary Briefing and submission to the Finance and Public Administration Committee's Pre-Budget Scrutiny to find out more.

We know that there are many different aspects to the cost of living crisis, and we’re keen to highlight all of the different ways that it is impacting women in Scotland. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be hosting blogs on a range of issues related to the cost of living and we want to hear from you – if you're interested, please drop us an email at letting us know what aspect of the cost of living and its impact on women you’d like to write about.

We aim for our blog to reflect a range of feminist viewpoints, and we offer a commissioning pot and editorial support to ensure that women do not have to offer their time or words for free. Find out more here.

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