By Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO of the Women’s Recourse Centre.
There are many commentators extolling the virtues of revised economic models ranging from the highly successful capitalist Nick Hanauer, the Women’s Budget Group ( plan F), Jeremy Corbyn, to Yvette Cooper who has talked about national infrastructure projects- including child care- not just roads and trains. So what we can clearly see happening is a wide acknowledgement that things need to change. We could infer from this that there is an unspoken acknowledgement that the current economic system is broken, beyond repair. Of course we are yet to see any world leaders naming this and offering a feasible alternative. However, I would bet good money on this being the case in a few decades with the beginnings of real change starting to occur. The reality is that our current economic system based upon the man-made ( yes “man” made) market is unsustainable, and actually counter productive. These systems are constructed; I am always flabbergasted when I read or hear people talk about the market as if it’s some kind of entity that has existed since time began, and is somehow a universal given that is unchangeable. This is just not the case, so let’s agree on that!
I am probably over excited by this emerging and growing debate (since I am not an economist), however my excitement is real, and my hope is growing that this debate could also signal an important shift for women’s inequality. After all if you look at A Fair Deal for Women and all its research you will, I hope, be astounded, even horrified by the all-encompassing and devastating level of inequality women and girls experience. This crosses all aspects of our lives and includes our economic position. Debates and the progression of our economic systems could include the levelling out of our inequality, and this is what really excites me; the potential to develop revised economic systems that include women, capitalise on our skills and abilities and reward us appropriately for that contribution. So Yvette Cooper’s call for child care to be a national infrastructure programme is a great starting place, and I think even the boys would agree that this would not only benefit women but men as well? This also leads onto another truism for me; women’s equality is good for everyone, not just women. Men need to feel the fear of sharing power and privilege and just do it anyway.