You have probably heard of the Green New Deal but what about a Feminist Green New Deal?
Back in September 2019 a coalition of women’s rights and climate activists in the USA including the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) , Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN and Climate Justice Alliance launched a Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal.
The Feminist Green New Deal Principles call for advancing reproductive justice, the creation of regenerative economies centered on feminist analysis and understanding of the care economy, a shift from exploitative and unsustainable production patterns and a rejection of false solutions to the climate crisis.
The pandemic has accelerated calls for a ‘new deal’ for the British economy. It has highlighted the neglect of public services, the lack of resilience and deep-seated socio-economic inequalities. This has strengthened the case for a Green New Deal (GND). But the Green New Deal frameworks don’t in general take in to account inequalities of gender, race and class.
WHAT WOULD A FEMINIST GREEN NEW DEAL LOOK LIKE?
INVESTMENT IN (SOCIAL) INFRASTRUCTURE
There’s lots of emphasis on how we can better grow the economy through investment in transport, housing and agriculture but often investment in people gets overlooked.
Social infrastructure is about investing in the care economy and therefore in people. We will all at some point in our lives require care and a Feminist Green New Deal will help ensure that this is prioritised. Jobs and training for carers and educators is widely known to be economically, environmentally and equality sound. The Women’s Budget Group research found that a 2% GDP investment in care (e.g. social care, childcare, parental leave and care level) creates double the number of jobs for women and almost as many for men, as the same investment in construction.
‘There is a lot of talk about building back better after the pandemic, and a green new deal might be more relevant than ever. But if it repeats the mistakes of the past, by privileging jobs for male workers and doing nothing to change how socially-necessary care work is organised and distributed, then it will not be the kind of transformative vision needed to mobilise mass support. So we’re offering feminist insights to inform a discussion about building back differently.’
– Sherilyn MacGregor, Author of the paper
INCREASING REPRESENTATION IN GREEN JOBS
A Feminist Green New Deal can help ensure that women and other marginalised groups are also represented in green jobs. In order to do this it is vital that women from low income backgrounds and people of colour can access training and development programmes through subsidies or other incentives (including paid education leave). There also needs to be an effort made to encourage women and girls into male-dominated green sectors promoted by the Green New Deal, as well as encouraging boys and men into the already green caring sectors.
Women’s Budget Group research finds that a 2% GDP investment in care (e.g. social care, childcare, parental leave and care level) creates double the number of jobs for women and almost as many for men than the same investment in construction.
CARE IS A GREEN JOB
There needs to be a shift in the narrative that is currently being presented around the Green New Deal – which focuses heavily on how jobs in construction and technology can help make us greener.
We need to start recognising that care is already a low carbon sector and investment in care is key in tackling gender inequality. Women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work sees them own less and earn less over a lifetime as they have less time for paid work.
Investing in care creates jobs for women, enabling them to participate in the labour market, while at the same time enabling other women to work and therefore increasing representation and overall achieving equality. Children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, also benefit from high quality childcare and education.
“Covid has exposed just how essential our caring industries and the people who work in them are. To build a society that values people and the environment, this recovery must include investment in these already low-carbon sectors. Care jobs are green jobs, any deal to green our economy must lift up and expand these industries as well as decarbonising the high polluting sectors.”- Maeve Cohen, author of the paper
BETTER REPRESENTATION IN DEMOCRACY AND OWNERSHIP
Women, especially women of colour and disabled women, are still underrepresented in all areas of political life. Changing this is crucial if we are to create a green economy that is inclusive. We need to increase participation on a local level so that we can promote economic, ecological and carbon education in schools as well as through the media, to engage communities.
Read the full policy paper and the briefing which sets out recommendations for a Green New Deal that puts intersectional gender equality front and centre. Find out more about the Feminist Green New Deal project with the Women’s Budget Group.