A couple days ago while browsing the internet, I came across the intriguing yet bizarre concept of ‘Feminist Economics’. Perplexed, I wondered as to what this could possibly entail. Economics is a social science regarding the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Feminism, on the other hand, is the belief that men and women are equal and should be treated as such across all bases. How could these two vastly different ideas possibly come together to form any semblance of a just and reasoned concept?
Essentially, feminist economics is the concept of examining and analysing economic problems from a feminist perspective. This ‘feminist’ perspective entails considering issues that typically affect female demographics, such as domestic work, patriarchal power structures in the workplace, feminist policies, care for the sick and elderly, and other similar problems. The way in which this differs from your bog standard economics is that this version specifically seeks out matters that disproportionately impact women. It’s important to keep in mind that feminist economics also looks at marginalised groups that are often left out of mainstream economic discourse, such as the working class, racialised groups, indigenous populations, and sexual minorities. Furthermore, this concept argues that standard economics is centred around the typical man who works for an income, spends his wages, and certainly doesn’t give birth.
An example of this would be in measuring GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It is measured by looking at the value produced through paid labour, but doesn’t take into account the unpaid, often domestic and care work undertaken by largely women in homes.
While a small and highly niche field, feminist economics is hugely relevant now more than ever as women’s rights come into question all over the world, but particularly in developing countries, such as the ongoing protests in Iran, genital mutilations in West African countries, and child marriages in Central Africa.