UBI should be part of the discussion of women’s economic, societal & cultural future because it is one step in ensuring equality. It won’t magically solve all the issues of misogyny, racism and inequality women face, but does help address these.
- THE WAGE GAP: Basic income gives women a level, non-zero baseline. It gives them a financial stability that is solely tied to them; not their employer, not their spouse, not their education or background. When women are not economically dependent on employers who hold power over them, they are able to demand equality in their wages and benefits. Really, this is one of the core arguments for UBI in general- if people aren’t afraid of being destitute and jobless, they can stand their ground against substandard wages and benefits, but it is especially relevant to women, who find themselves with the short straw regularly. UBI wouldn’t eliminate the wage gap, or the need to address the underlying societal -isms that enforce that wage gap, but it helps narrow the gap to some extent.
- THE PARENTING PENALTY: Women are disproportionately penalized for choosing to have children- they are passed over for employment, promotions, benefits, etc. More over, despite our society’s worship of “family values”, we give almost no support to actual families. Our economy pretty much requires multiple wage earners in the home, and those wage earners are the only people who can benefit from tax credits and social safety nets. Spend 18+ years raising children as your ‘job’ (and anyone who thinks that isn’t real work needs a serious reality check) and you get no tax boosts, no Social Security when you’re elderly, no help if you become disabled. A Basic Income would allow more people (of any gender) to choose to stay home with their children. It would eliminate the need to struggle to find childcare (expensive!) while working a job that barely pays for the childcare! It would allow parents to be more involved with their child’s school and activities, because fewer parents would need to be working multiple jobs, just to make ends meet.
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: One of the #1 reasons women give for not leaving an abusive home situation is “I can’t afford to leave.”. Abusers often cultivate financial dependency, specifically as a form of controlling their victims. A woman with access to a UBI, that is tied to her personally -no matter where she is, or what her circumstances- has the freedom to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice. Because she has a guaranteed amount of money coming to her, it will be easier for her to make plans to find housing quickly, or leave the area. UBI administration could even have basic procedures in place to change information in an emergent situation- something that domestic violence advocacy groups could facilitate easily. Fundamentally, UBI could save the lives of domestic violence victims.
- SELF EMPLOYMENT & ENTREPRENEURSHIP: When peoples basic, fundamental needs are met, when they are not working for survival, they are able to do more with their lives. One of the areas where UBI would shine is allowing women to persue their own financial ventures. Right now, most women are tied to a job to meet basic needs, or a household budget. There’s not room in their lives (or their credit report) for bank loans for an idea, or finding venture capitalists. Many women have found themselves trapped in the MLM lure of “Work from home and make money!”, that doesn’t always pan out. Or they desire to work in an area that isn’t a standard employment field- you can’t just go hit the help wanted pages. Access to a basic income would be the financial stability and resources to peruse education or self-employment without risking the family finances, or go into extreme debt.
- LIFTING WOMEN & CHILDREN FROM POVERTY: Women are 35% more likely to live in poverty then men. In 2015 in the USA nearly 1 in 5 children and 1 in 3 single mother families lived in poverty. A UBI doesn’t eliminate poverty, or the social structures that create poverty, but it can raise the floor for everyone to stand on.