Gender and Public Policy

Although gender inequality is often studied from a social justice perspective, increasingly the focus is on its economic and social impact on women, families and households. Wider issues like economic empowerment, labour force participation, and asset ownership, human development and social cohesion are a central focus of the gender and public policy research cluster.

What are the economic costs of gender inequality? Do particular laws and legal presumptions disadvantage women? Why do two out of every three older women in Ireland have to take a means test to get the state pension? How does gender inequality impact the broader goals of global development, human development and social cohesion?

Whether subtle, custom and practice, or codified, gender inequality almost always means inequality for women. This cluster of experts in economics, politics, society, education, law and ageing are researching beyond the customary social justice perspective on gender inequality, and closely examining its economic, legal and social impacts on individuals, families, businesses and countries.

If you would like to research gender and public policy issues, or if your government, organisation or community would appreciate some insights to help resolve these problems, contact the cluster leaders Dr Nata Duvvury or Dr Aine Ni Leime.

Research Focus

The work of the cluster includes research on pensions, recession, work and welfare; family property and marital breakdown law; higher education, academic careers, and ethics; and human development and social cohesion. The cluster is very concerned with civic engagement. It contributes to policy-making at home and abroad, works with NGOs and third-sector organisations, and encourages women’s participation in the public sphere.

One high-impact research project on domestic violence against women in Vietnam, quantified the cost at 1.4% of GDP and estimated the fall in women’s earnings at 35%. A second project, for the World Bank, found that the output lost due to domestic violence against women was 23% of the GDP spent on education and training in Bangladesh and 31% in Uganda.

Further areas of research in the Gender and Public Policy cluster include:

  1. The extent to which women have control over the money they earn and in fact accumulate wealth. An issue of particular concern is the gendered impact of macro economic and fiscal policies.
  2. How legal rules on marital property, prenuptial agreements and divorce settlements impact on women.
  3. The links between gender and the new agreed Sustainable Development Goals, which define the global agenda for all countries to 2030.
  4. The impact of raising the retirement age in the EU and US. This is likely to disadvantage women, and men in precarious work.
  5. Gender equality issues in the workplace, including gender pay gap, harassment and women’s leadership/entrepreneurship.