While we try to derive analogies from our regular activities, it is not very difficult to notice that various social and cultural constructs are at work mutually determining how every social, political and economical aspect turns out to be. For instance, if a couple decides to purchase furniture for their home, it is imperative that their choices will differ from each other. But how exactly do sellers, as a whole, adapt to these differences and come up with the most relevant and effective selling and marketing methods to ensure smooth sale and delivery based on the overall impact that each of their choices has on the final decision is what Gender Economics acknowledges and covers. This, in brief, is the essence of Gender Economics.
As we move ahead, it is important for us to define what the term means not only through analogies but through definite terminologies. Gender Economics is the amalgamation of the social construct of Gender and its direct as well as indirect repercussions on consumer choices, decision making and the response of all the sectors of the economy. Gender Economics is about acknowledging the inequalities and their impact on the economy and also how the economy leads to further creating more differences and then working towards balancing the same through constructive policies or suggestions.
Gender and social construct determine both economic and non-economic decisions of consumers. Be it a decision of deciding which car to purchase or whether to take that particular job or educational decision, everything is intertwined and mutually dependent. When taking up a job is a matter of deciding whether an individual is safe or not, gender plays a much greater role than we could think of. The ability of gender to determine economic decisions further makes businesses think of probable ways of monetising the gap.
The ever increasing advent of Capitalism very clearly works towards monetising this gap and the subsequent differences in choices. The inherent gender priced discrimination reflected through pink taxes wherein the products specifically targeted for women cost more than another similar product for men. This is a prominent instance of gender-based economic bias.
The impact of gender on businesses and their decisions through differential pricing and marketing techniques can be termed as a micro-level impact of gender biases. Rather than just having an indirect impact on the final decisions, women need to be the direct decision-makers for all sorts of businesses and activities. But if we talk about the macro-level impact, the overall response of the economy and policy suggestions thereafter needs to be highlighted. Understanding the root behind the gap and re-structuring the policy approach towards the same comes under the realm of Gender Economics as well.
As we move ahead in the discourse regarding the gap between different genders, it is important for us to understand how covid 19 has terribly added to the differences and made the situation worse. The mention of intersectionality is also inherent here because apart from gender differences, other advantages of higher-income earners and privileged classes and castes have created a divide that is difficult to undo, especially after the pandemic. The health crisis resulted in a high level of unemployment. The high percentage of women workers in the worst impacted areas of manual health and care work has resulted in a major population of women losing their source of income. Additionally, the ever-increasing need for domestic care work and unavailability of helpers due to lockdown has resulted in women of the family bearing the brunt of household chores and work which is highly unrecognized and unpaid. The pandemic has left us questioning the future of our efforts towards bridging the gap which now seems to only get worse with each passing minute.
The role of upbringing and household will continue to be one of the major influences in any person’s life and even though the relation between upbringing and economic decisions seems to be non-existent at first but every social construct adds to the economic disparity. With the greater advent of media and its influence on the overall perspective of individuals towards everything, we move towards a form of life that is controllable by just a click but yet revolutionary.
From the first wave of feminism back in the late 19th century to the third wave of feminism in the 1990s which worked towards intersectionality to the social media activism of the 21st century, the crux remains the same: a call for acknowledgement of differences and efforts to balance the results. We are still far away from the goal, but we definitely are closer to it than yesterday.
By Khushi Berry