Care and childcare – both paid and unpaid - are key issues of women’s inequality in Scotland.
Paid care work is overwhelmingly done by women, particularly older women and migrant women, and is chronically undervalued and underpaid precisely because it is seen as ‘women’s work’. Women still take on the clear majority of unpaid care work and household management, impacting on our health, financial security, and ability to engage in work, education, politics, sport, and leisure.
Women’s caring roles prop up the economy and yet are largely invisible in policymaking and taken for granted by society more broadly.
Blog – Aug 15, 2023childcare cost of living guestblog studentplacement
Jun 8, 2022: We welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation on Scottish Carer’s Assistance.
In March 2022, Engender ran two engagement events with women who are unpaid carers and circulated a survey based on this consultation. Our response is informed by the views of the women who participated, alongside years of work engaging with and highlighting unpaid care as a key issue of women’s inequality. Between 60% and 70% of unpaid care is delivered by women in Scotland,1 care that is worth approximately £10.8 billion to the economy per annum. Beyond this headline figure, the shape of women’s caring roles also differs significantly from those of men. Women are twice as likely as men to give up work to carry out unpaid care, and are much more likely to juggle caring with (often low-paid) employment, to hold multiple caring roles, and to provide care for more than 35 hours per week. The Covid-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on carers; during the first lockdown for example, 78% of carers reported having to provide more care since the start of the pandemic.
Our key messages in this consultation response are that:
• Robust and iterative equality impact assessment of the proposals are needed, including from an intersectional gender perspective.
• Existing levels of support are inadequate, and the new ‘additional person’ entitlement is proposed at an unacceptably low level.
• Proposals to expand eligibility for Scottish Carer’s Assistance in the longer-term are welcome, but should be viewed as a starting point for further expansion in future.
• Policy coherence with work in development on the National Care Service and Minimum Income Guarantee is vital.
Date of publication: June 2022care unpaidcare
Blog – Jun 8, 2022care unpaidwork
Blog – May 16, 2022care unpaidwork
Blog – Dec 3, 2021: How has Covid-19 impacted women in Scotland? We’ve been working with Close the Gap and colleagues from across the UK in a project to gather polling data throughout the past year – read more about the findings of this work in this blog.care covid19 health unpaidwork
Nov 10, 2021: The provision of care, both paid and unpaid, is closely interlinked with systemic and harmful gender roles that constrain women’s lives. Yet this consultation document on proposals for a new National Care Service, which runs to 137 pages, is entirely gender blind. Women are the majority of social care service users, the majority of unpaid carers, and the vast majority of the social care workforce in Scotland. Women’s access to paid work, leisure time and power remains heavily constrained by the provision of care and gendered expectations around its value and delivery. Social care is vital infrastructure that supports people in Scotland to enjoy their right to participate fully in all branches of society and can prevent isolation, poor health and wellbeing, and poverty – all of which are gendered issues. Care itself is undervalued culturally and financially precisely because it is associated with women. In turn, this cultural undervaluation and the lack of investment attached to social care support perpetuates limited understanding of the role that it plays in the social and economic wellbeing of society.
Date of publication: November 2021care social
Blog – Nov 9, 2021care mainstreaming
Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee call for views on its Pre-Budget Scrutiny 2022/23
Sep 27, 2021: Engender welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny. It is imperative that the Committee interrogate the ways in which the Budget cumulatively impacts on women and men as part of a cross-portfolio approach throughout the Scottish Parliament. There is no area of policy whereby women and men do not have different experiences or differential access to power, resources, and safety. Budgets are not neutral, but present an opportunity to re-enforce these inequalities or to account for them according to political and public policy goals.
Date of publication: September 2021.faireconomy covid19 care budget
Blog – May 14, 2021: Engender has been working with Close the Gap, and other women's organisations across the UK, to carry out some polling work to see how Covid has impacted on women's lives.care covid19 faireconomy mentalhealth
Engender and Close the Gap Joint Briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on women's wellbeing, mental health and financial security
May 14, 2021: This briefing looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s wellbeing, mental health, and financial security in Scotland by analysing survey data gathered from 509 adults in Scotland and a booster sample of 401 Black and minority ethnic (BME) adults. The survey data reinforces pre-existing evidence that women have been particularly affected by rising financial precarity and anxiety as a result of the ongoing crisis. The data also highlights that young women and disabled women are being particularly impacted by the social, economic and labour market implications of the pandemic. As a result, these findings underscore the importance of a gendered economic recovery.
Date of publication: May 2021.covid19 mentalhealth faireconomy care
Engender and Close the Gap Joint briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on women with childcare responsibilities in Scotland
Mar 17, 2021: This briefing looks at the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on women with childcare responsibilities in Scotland specifically by analysing survey data gathered from 721 parents in Scotland. The survey data reinforces pre-existing evidence that women’s employment has been disproportionately impacted by additional caring responsibilities over the course of the crisis, and women have been particularly affected by rising financial precarity and anxiety as a result of the social and economic consequences of the crisis. The data also highlights that Black and minority ethnic (BME) women and disabled women have been particularly impacted by the social, economic, and labour market implications of the pandemic.
Date of publication: March 2021.care covid19 childcare employment
Feb 10, 2021: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Member's Business Session on the Impact of Covid-19 on Women in the Economy of 11th February. Engender estimates that the impact of lost productivity because of mothers’ additional childcare while schools are closed amounts to a loss £15 million a day in Scotland. There is an urgent need to reassess the approach to gender within recovery and for Scotland to properly understand and respond to the impact of the pandemic on women’s economic and other rights as we enter the next phase of the pandemic and begin to fully focus on recovery.
Date of publication: February 2021.covid19 faireconomy inclusivegrowth care
Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on Welfare policy in Scotland
Feb 1, 2021: This is Engender's submission of evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on Welfare Policy in Scotland. The design of the social security and ‘welfare’ system is one of the key drivers of inequality in the UK and it remains a critical lever available to ensure women have access to an adequate standard of living, equal access to choices and opportunities, and safety and security. Women are more likely to rely on social security for all or part of their income than men due to a greater risk of poverty, gendered experiences of the labour market which push them into poorer paid and insecure employment, the impact of men’s violence, and deeply-ingrained norms around the provision of care and childcare.
Date of publication: February 2021.socialsecurity care covid19
Engender response to the Commission on Social Justice and Fairness consultation on Discussion Paper 2: Reform of Social Care
Oct 23, 2020: Engender welcomes this opportunity to comment on the discussion paper put forward by the Commission on Social Justice and Fairness. We believe that reform to care services must start from understanding the effects of low pay, undervaluation and low investment from a gender perspective before it develops effective solutions. We do not consider ourselves best placed to comment on the detail of proposed reforms to the delivery of social care in Scotland nor to conclude at this stage whether a national care service could be all or part of the solution. We have therefore approached this consultation with the aim of highlighting the significant gendered considerations that must underpin any reforms.
Date of publication: October 2020.care faireconomy genderpaygap
Engender submission of evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Committee call for evidence on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
Oct 20, 2020: Women’s rights and children’s rights are closely connected, both because of women’s gendered social roles as mothers and caregivers as well as for the protection of the rights of girls and young women. Engender warmly welcomes the UNCRC Bill and the approach the Scottish Government has taken to the incorporation of children’s rights within it. However, we would restate that children’s rights and women’s rights go hand-in-hand, and that guidance and training must be sufficiently gendered in order to protect both girls and young women and mothers and primary caregivers.
Date of publication: October 2020.womensrights care childcare
Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee inquiry on the role of Scottish Social Security in Covid-19 recovery
Oct 15, 2020: Women are twice as likely to rely on social security for all or part of their income than men due to a greater risk of poverty, gendered experiences of the labour market which push them into poorer paid and insecure employment, the impact of men’s violence and deeply-ingrained norms around the provision of care and childcare.
Engender is acutely aware of the scale of impact the Covid-19 pandemic presents to women and to inequality in Scotland and we do not underestimate the challenges of meeting the various demands this will place on Scottish and UK public services. However, we are strongly
of the view that the principles of Scottish social security require it to build on existing commitments to meet new and expanding needs. While we are concerned about the adequacy of the system as a whole to respond to the huge and complex dangers to women’s equality and risk of poverty, there are specific groups for whom there is evidence of building need and opportunity for policy-makers to react in the more immediate term.
Date of publication: October 2020.socialsecurity faireconomy covid19 poverty care
Sep 30, 2020: This is an Engender briefing for MSPs ahead of the Scottish Parliament Opposition debate on Recognising the Importance of Family Caregivers on 30th September 2020. In June 2020 Engender published our paper Gender and Unpaid Work, which summarises the evidence on the gendered allocation of unpaid care for older and disabled people as well as childcare, housework, and household management. It describes how the Covid-19 lockdown has affected these patterns and analyses how they must be taken into account in planning for economic and social recovery.
We therefore welcome the timing of this debate in Parliament and the opportunity to highlight how changes to paid and unpaid social care present an opportunity to advance women’s equality, wellbeing and rights.
Date of publication: September 2020.
Sep 2, 2020: This gender edit of The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government compiles all references to women, gender and issues with implications for gender equality which appear in the document.
This year’s Programme for Government comes amid the Scottish Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and ahead of the Scottish Elections in 2021. Considerable focus is given to protecting jobs and adjustments or investments in the health and social care system. The Government announced four new Bills to be introduced and the continuation of Bills already introduced ahead of the dissolution for the election next year.
Date published: September 2020.genderedit faireconomy covid19 womensrights cedaw socialsecurity care
Aug 19, 2020: This is a response to the Scottish Labour Party consultation "Time to Care About Care".
Engender believes that there is an important conversation to be had about the future and long-term provision of a social care system that is genuinely universal and equitable and meets individual needs. Gender cannot be excluded from this work, and there is a need to consider how revaluation of care work and skills can deliver better conditions for people, mainly women, who provide care, both paid and unpaid.
Date of publication: August 2020.care faireconomy employment genderpaygap
Aug 12, 2020: This is an Engender briefing for MSPs ahead of the Scottish Government debate on an Implementation Plan for Economic Recovery on 11th Agust 2020. Over the past six months Engender has sought to highlight the multitude of ways in which Covid-19 and our response to it will impact on women’s lives, rights and equality with men. We are especially cognisant of the mounting evidence around women’s rising economic inequality due to the pandemic and national and devolved response planning.
This parliamentary briefing calls on Scottish Government to go further to ensure that economic recovery also closes the gap between women and men. We urge Scottish Government to scale up its ambition and the necessary action to deliver a meaningful economic (and social) recovery for women that not only responds to the threat of deeper inequality as a result of Covid-19 but actively realises women’s economic rights and revalues women’s work.
Date of publication: August 2020.genderpaygap covid19 faireconomy care education employment
Jul 17, 2020: Women’s equality cannot be realised while women still have do so much more childcare, care for older and disabled people, and housework than men. Covid-19 has exposed the extent to which women shoulder the majority of this unpaid work, and are assumed to be available to pick up the slack during a crisis. Doing unpaid work pushes women into poverty, with women four times more likely than men to give up employment because of multiple caring roles. It also stops women studying, doing community work, and even using local services. The ongoing impact on Covid-19 will also hit women hardest, with social care services withdrawn, delays to school reopening, and reductions in services by charities. Yet despite its overwhelming importance to women’s lives, unpaid care work rarely features in legislative or policy discussions.
This report highlights the impact of Covid-19 on women's caring roles, and makes recommendation for how Scottish Government can measure, value, and reduce women's unpaid work.
Date of publication: July 2020care makingworkvisible covid19 coronavirus unpaidwork economy
Jun 3, 2020: Over recent years, Inclusive Growth is a term that has become more prominent in the policy, development and academic arenas as the uneven distribution of the benefits of growth becomes more and more apparent. Increasing economic inequality within countries has led to new approaches to macroeconomic policy that recognise the benefits of ensuring that countries not only grow the size of their economy but ensure
that inequality is addressed. Economic inequality between men and women is an example of where the benefits of economic growth have not traditionally been shared equally among groups in society.
Gender inequality has long been recognised as a drag on economic growth and closing the employment gap between men and women has
been a key goal of successive development agendas. As feminist economists have long since argued, traditional measures of growth have ignored unpaid work which often takes place within the household and is disproportionately done by women, which reinforces gender unequal access to economic resources and prosperity. As it is currently conceived, Inclusive Growth agendas are not adequately gendered and run the risk of exacerbating gender inequality in the distribution of economic growth.
This joint paper from Engender and Close the Gap has been authored by Emily Thomson, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Date of publication: June 2020economy faireconomy care feministeconomics covid19 coronavirus inclusivegrowth
Blog – Jun 3, 2020care childcare coronavirus covid19 economy faireconomy makingworkvisible recovery
Jun 2, 2020: The economic downturn precipitated by Covid-19 is different from that caused by previous shocks. It is likely to have a particularly harsh impact on hospitality, retail, and care sectors that are female dominated and dominated by Black and minority ethnic workers. At the same time, services that enable women, and especially disabled women’s, labour market participation, including nurseries, schools, and social care, will need to operate differently to avoid exacerbating the pandemic.
If Scotland’s traditional ways of thinking about the economy won’t work then we need to adopt some new approaches. The following principles develop Scotland’s existing commitment to inclusive growth. They are a set of ideas, challenges, and calls that are rooted in evidence. They describe features of an economy that works for women as well as men. They put care and solidarity at its heart. They will create better jobs, better
decision-making, and a more adequate standard of living for us all.
This joint paper from Engender and Close the Gap sets out nine key principles for an economic recovery which will work for women.
Date of publication: June 2020covid19 coronavirus economy care work paygap
Blog – Mar 8, 2020care childcare genderpaygap iwd makingworkvisible
Blog – Nov 7, 2019childcare faireconomy guestblog
Oct 25, 2019: This document is a submission of written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee inquiry on benefit take-up. We welcome the Committee’s inquiry into benefit take-up and the opportunity to outline our concerns as well as the constructive, yet ongoing, discussions with the Scottish Government to ensure equalities considerations are addressed.
Date of publication: October 2019.socialsecurity care
Engender response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on incorporation of the UN Charter of Children’s Rights
Aug 29, 2019: Engender welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Scottish Government’s proposals relating to incorporation of the UN Charter of Children’s Rights (UNCRC).
We are fully supportive of intentions to incorporate the treaty into Scots Law and view the UNCRC as the first step in a human rights legal framework for Scotland, one which will include women’s rights both overtly and holistically. We are however concerned that some of the Scottish Government’s proposals would not lead to a comprehensive and rigorous system for the protection of children’s rights. While we recognise that children’s rights and women’s rights are frequently closely connected, we do not consider Engender to have any particular expertise in the UNCRC. We have therefore approached this consultation in its broad themes in order to highlight some key areas of support and concern.
Date of publication: August 2019.cedaw womensrights childcare
Blog – Jun 12, 2019care disability health menopause
Mar 6, 2019: This year’s International Women’s Day adopts the theme of #BalanceForBetter and provides an opportunity to reflect on both the ways in which structural gender inequality continues to constrain women’s lives in Scotland, and the political will and action needed to tackle it. Women still carry out the majority of unpaid care and household labour as a result of traditional gender roles. This is one of the factors underpinning the fact that women are still chronically under-represented in elected office and public life, including leadership of private companies, public bodies, and in academia.
Date of publication: March 2019.womensrights makingworkvisible vawg gendermatters ourbodiesourrights
Blog – Feb 14, 2019care faireconomy makingworkvisible
Blog – Feb 1, 2019cedaw childcare engendernews gendermattersroadmap media quotas womensrights
Blog – Oct 22, 2018care employment engendernews equalpay
Blog – Sep 11, 2017care genderedit gendermattersroadmap poverty vawg
Engender Submission to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee Call for Evidence on the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill
May 9, 2017: Engender welcomes the introduction of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which ambitiously sets targets to eradicate child poverty by 2030. The introduction of the proposed legislation signals a commitment by the Scottish Government to continue to implement measures to build a fairer Scotland. Though we welcome the Bill, we wish to highlight the importance of understanding the gendered dimension of poverty, as it is our firm belief that understanding and tackling women’s poverty in Scotland will be central to the success of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill.
Date of publication: May 2017.socialsecurity womensrights childcare poverty
Mar 7, 2017: This International Women’s Day Engender is drawing attention to two overlapping areas of women’s inequality: the persistent glass ceiling that has resulted in women filling only 27% of Scotland’s 3029 positions of power across political institutions, public sector, media and cultural bodies, and corporate world; and women’s persistently high share of unpaid domestic and reproductive labour.
Date of publication: March 2017.iwd womensrights makingworkvisible care
Blog – Feb 27, 2017iwd makingworkvisible
Blog – Jul 27, 2016care disability engendernews women
Guest Post: Social Care and Gender Equality: Independent Living in Scotland’s Dialogue on the Future Funding of Social Care
Blog – Mar 2, 2016care disability guestblog holyrood2016
Blog – Sep 22, 2015care disability guestblog
Guest Post: Women at the heart of decision making: How women’s goals and ambitions can shape and create better public policy
Blog – Mar 11, 2015care employment guestblog
Blog – Mar 6, 2015iwd makingworkvisible
Blog – Aug 7, 2014childcare guestblog indyref
Aug 6, 2014: This briefing is part of a series that sets out how power and responsibility to tackle critical gender equality issues are divided between Holyrood and Westminster. It is part of Engender’s contribution to the independence referendum debate.
Date of publication: August 2014.indyref care socialcare childcare
Engender Submission to the Scottish Parliament Education and Culture Committee Call for Evidence on Scotland’s Educational and Cultural Future
Jul 30, 2014: Engender's response to the Scottish Parliament Education and Culture Committee call for written evidence on Scotland's Educational and Cultural Future. Our submission mainly focuses on childcare provision, as well as youth employment.
Date of publication: March 2014.childcare employment
Mar 28, 2014: This document is a ‘gender edit’ guide to the Scottish Labour party’s ‘red paper’ which sets out its case for a ‘no vote’ in the referendum. It extracts passages that refer directly to gender and women, or where there are clear implications for women and girls in Scotland.
Date of publication: March 2014indyref childcare genderedit
Blog – Mar 18, 2014care feministeconomics indyref iwd politics vaw women
Mar 5, 2014: This guide was prepared by women from the Inverness area who found themselves caring for their partners. They came together as a group to take part in Engender's 'Equality Counting' project funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Date of publication: September 2012.
Mar 5, 2014: Women in Scotland calendar 2012: monthly facts and stats on women's inequality.
Date of publication: January 2012.equality womensrights international publiclife politics genderpaygap care socialcare socialsecurity childcare vawg
Mar 5, 2014: A summary and discussion of the implications of data from the Gender Audit of Statistics [Breitenbach,E. and Wasoff, F. Scottish Executive Social Research 2007] relating to care and caring prepared by S. Macpherson, Engender Associate and E. Thomson.care socialcare childcare
Mar 5, 2014: A summary and discussion of the implications of data from the Gender Audit of Statistics [Breitenbach,E. and Wasoff, F. Scottish Executive Social Research 2007] relating to care and caring prepared by S. Macpherson, Engender Associate and E. Thomson.education training socialcare
Engender Response to the Scottish Government Consultation on Tackling Child Poverty in Scotland: A Discussion Paper
Mar 5, 2014: Engender's response to a Scottish Government discussion paper: Tackling Child Poverty in Scotland: A Discussion Paper.
Date of publication: January 2011.childcare poverty
Engender Response to the Consultation on the Scottish Government Response to the 2008 Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Mar 5, 2014: Engender's response to the consultation on the Scottish Government's response to the 2008 concluding observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Date of publication: March 2009.childcare womensrights equality
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