Masterclass studies gender budget analysis

22 Nov 2011     Last updated: 20 Jun 2014

On Friday 18 November the Centre for Economic Empowerment’s third masterclass examined the important and emerging field of gender budget analysis. The seminar was addressed by Professor Ailsa McKay of Glasgow Caledonian University, a leading authorit

Attendees were treated to a seminar that examined the theory of gender budgeting and the practical experiences of Ailsa McKay and Lynn Carvill in developing gender budget analysis and its influence on policy makers in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professor McKay outlined that gender budget analysis is a critical approach to examining economic and budgetary decision making; it challenges the underlying assumptions and perceived wisdom which are inherent in mainstream theory and practice.

In asking simple questions such as what do mainstream economists/economics value, gender analysis can reveal core assumptions which, in many instances, ignore or devalue the work and role of women in contributing to economic development and wealth creation. Assumptions and value judgements made in ‘objective’ mainstream economics and budgetary practices can result in longstanding and structural inequalities developing, such as the gender pay gap.

Professor McKay sketched the approach and practical work that the Scottish Women’s Budget Group has undertaken in influencing the Scottish Executive. She suggested that a clear understanding of mainstream economics and statistical analysis is essential, combined with an approach that challenges the norm by asking what are often perceived as simple questions, with a view to developing greater transparency and participation in budgetary and policy decision making.

Lynn Carvill examined the impact the most recent budget, government responses to the economic crisis and welfare reform have had, or are likely to have, on women in Northern Ireland. This was followed by an overview of the practical work that has been undertaken by the women’s sector in Northern Ireland from sustained lobbying, and the publication of the WRDA report ‘The NI Economy: Women on the Edge?’ to the development of the Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group.


This was followed by a lively question and answer session which saw the sharing of ideas and practical advice amongst attendees and participants.

Speaking after the event Peter Hutchinson, the Co-ordinator of the Centre for Economic Empowerment said:

This was another well attended and very worthwhile seminar. The current economic backdrop illustrates the pitfalls of unquestionably following perceived economic wisdom, and it is extremely important that we improve our critical analysis skills. The focus on the impact budgetary decisions have on women is extremely important, and with the publication of the Programme for Government, the Investment Strategy and the Economic Strategy, this seminar was very timely.

“If we are to develop an economy that benefits everyone, it is vital that all the roles women play in our economy are properly valued and that women are not advertently or inadvertently discriminated against by policy and practice.

“This seminar provided the sector with a mix of better theoretical understanding of gender budget analysis and the sharing of a significant amount of practical experience. It is now crucial that we better comprehend the changing budgetary process in Northern Ireland and engage with our local decision makers to increase critical, transparent and constructive participation, with a view to delivering equitable and improved outcomes for all.” 

For more information on the work NICVA's Centre for Economic Empowerment is doing, visit the project page at

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