How to Make What Really Matters Count in Economic Decision-Making: Care, Domestic Violence, Gender-Responsive Budgeting, Macroeconomic Policies and Human Rights

  • Margunn Bjørnholt


Bjørnholt offers a reflection on 25 years of feminist economics, providing illustrative examples of how feminist academic critique, within and outside of academia, in combination with civil engagement, has evolved, promoting change towards better economics, better policies and well-being for all. Mirroring the widening scope over time of feminist economics, Bjørnholt discusses the exclusion of care and other life-sustaining, unpaid work from systems of national accounts and efforts to make them count; efforts to achieve gender justice through gender-responsive budgeting; the effort to bring society’s attention to the extent of domestic violence and its consequences; and understanding economics as social provisioning, which considers the responsibility to care for everything, including human rights and our shared living space Earth, when assessing the consequences of macroeconomic policy.


Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) Human Rights Count Matrices Unpaid Work Economic Liberalism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am indebted to Iulie Aslaksen (Statistics Norway) and emerita Charlotte Koren (Norwegian Sosial Research) for useful comments and suggestions.


  1. Acierno, R., Hernandez, M. A., Amstadter, A. B., Resnick, H. S., Steve, K., Muzzy, W., et al. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The National Elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 292–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agarwal, B., & Panda, P. (2007). Toward freedom from domestic violence: The neglected obvious. Journal of Human Development, 8(3), 359–388.Google Scholar
  3. Ahmad, N., & Seung-Hee Koh, S.-H. (2011). Incorporating estimates of household production of non-market services into international comparisons of material well-being. Working Paper 42. OECD Statistics Directorate.Google Scholar
  4. Antopoulos, R. (2009). The unpaid care work-paid work connection. Working Paper 86. ILO.Google Scholar
  5. Aslaksen, I., Bragstad, T., & Ås, B. (2014). Feminist economics as vision for a sustainable future. In M. Bjørnholt & A. McKay (Eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics (pp. 21–36). Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  6. Aslaksen, J., & Koren, C. (2014). Reflections on unpaid household work, economic growth, and consumption possibilities. In M. Bjørnholt & A. McKay (Eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics (pp. 57–71). Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  7. Balakrishnan, R., & Elson, D. (2011). Economic policy and human rights: Holding governments to account. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  8. Balakrishnan, R., Heintz, J., & Elson, D. (2016). Rethinking economic policy for social justice: The radical potential of human rights. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Beder, S. (2001). Trading the Earth: The politics behind tradeable pollution rights. Environmental Liability, 9(2), 152–160.Google Scholar
  10. Benería, L., Berik, G., & Floro, M. (2016). Gender, development and globalization: Economics as if all people mattered. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Bjørnholt, M., & McKay, A. (Eds.). (2014). Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics. Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bjørnholt, M., & Stefansen, K. (forthcoming). Same but different: Polish and Norwegian parents’ work–family adaptations in Norway. Journal article, under review.Google Scholar
  13. Boyd, S. B., & Sheehy, E. (2016). Men’s groups: Challenging feminism. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 28(1), 5–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Budlender, D. (Ed.). (2010). Time use studies and unpaid care work. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, J., & Gillespie, M. (Eds.). (2016). Feminist economics and public policy. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Dalla Costa, M., & James, S. (1973). The power of women and the subversion of the community. Bristol: Falling Wall Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dolan, P., Loomes, G., Peasgood, T., & Tsuchiya, A. (2005). Estimating the intangible victim costs of violent crime. British Journal of Criminology, 45(6), 958–976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dragiewicz, M., & Mann, R. M. (2016). Introduction to special edition: Fighting feminism–Organised opposition to women’s rights. Journal of Women and the Law, 28(1), 1–6.Google Scholar
  19. Durán, M. A., & Milosavljevic, V. (2012). Unpaid work, time use surveys and care demand forecasting in Latin America. Documento de trabajo 7. Bilbao: Fundación BBVA.Google Scholar
  20. Duvvury, N., Callan, A., Carney, P., & Raghavendra, S. (2013). Intimate partner violence: Economic costs and implications for growth and development. Women’s Voice, Agency, & Participation Research Series 3. World Bank.Google Scholar
  21. Earth guardians. (n.d.). Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. Retrieved from
  22. European Gender Budget Network (EGBN). (2007). Gender budgeting in Europe-NOW! Manifiesto. Retrieved from
  23. Fawcett Society Policy Briefing March. (2012). The impact of austerity on women. Retrieved from
  24. Folbre, N. (2001). The invisible heart: Economics and family values. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  25. Folbre, N. (2015). Accounting for Care: A research and survey design agenda. Paper prepared for the IARIW—OECD special conference: W(h)ither the SNA? April 16–17, Paris, 2015. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  26. Folbre, N. (2016). Valuing non market work. Background think piece for Human Development Report 2015. UNDP.Google Scholar
  27. Folbre, N., & Nelson, J. A. (2000). For love or money—Or both? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(4), 123–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fraser, N. (1994). After the family wage: Gender equity and the welfare state. Political Theory, 22(4), 591–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goodwin, N., Harris, J., Nelson, J., Roach, B., & Torras, M. (2013). Microeconomics in context. New York and London: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  30. Himmelweit, S. (2013). Care: Feminist economic theory and policy challenges. Journal of Gender Studies Ochanomizu University, 16, 1–18.Google Scholar
  31. Jülich, S. (2014). Substantive equality, Stockholm syndrome and the costs of child sexual abuse. In M. Bjørnholt & A. McKay (Eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics (pp. 107–118). Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  32. Kerr, R., & McLean, J. (1996). Paying for violence: Some of the costs of violence against women in BC. The Ministry of Women’s Equality Province of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  33. Koren, C. (2012). Kvinnenes rolle i norsk økonomi. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  34. Loseke, D. R., & Kurz, D. (2005). Men’s violence toward women is the serious social problem. In D. R. Loseke, R. J. Gelles, & M. M. Cavanaugh (Eds.), Current controversies on family violence (Vol. 2, pp. 79–96). Thousand Oaks, London and New Delhi: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mader, K. (2014). Overview of GRB initiatives in Europe. Presentation at Gender responsive budgeting: Theory and practice in perspective, International Conference, Vienna University of Economics and Business, November 6–8, 2014.Google Scholar
  36. Mellor, M. (2005). Ecofeminist political economy: Integrating feminist economics and ecological economics. Feminist Economics, 11(3), 120–126.Google Scholar
  37. Merchant, C. (1980). The death of nature: Women, ecology and the scientific revolution. San Fransisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  38. Mies, M., & Shiva, V. (1993). Ecofeminism. New Jersey: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  39. Nelson, J. A. (1992). Gender, metaphor, and the definition of economics. Economics and Philosophy, 8(1), 103–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nelson, J. A. (1993). The study of choice or the study of provisioning? Gender and the definition of economics. In M. A. Ferber & J. A. Nelson (Eds.), Beyond economic man: Feminist theory and economics (pp. 23–36). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  41. Nelson, J. A. (1997). Feminism, ecology and the philosophy of economics. Ecological Economics, 20(2), 155–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Hagan, A. (2013). ‘A wheel within a wheel’: Adoption and implementation of gender budgeting in the sub-state governments of Scotland, Euskadi, and Andalucia (2000–2009). PhD dissertation, Glasgow Caledonian University.Google Scholar
  43. O’Hara, S. (2014). Everything needs care: Toward a context-based economy. In M. Bjørnholt & A. McKay (Eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics (pp. 37–56). Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  44. Pearson, R., & Elson, D. (2015). Transcending the impact of the financial crisis in the United Kingdom: Towards plan F—A feminist economic strategy. Feminist Review, 109(1), 8–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pizzey, E. (2011). This way to the revolution: A memoir. London: Peter Owen Publishers.Google Scholar
  46. Power, M. (2004). Social provisioning as a starting point for feminist economics. Feminist Economics, 10(3), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Quinn, S. (2016). Europe: A survey of gender budgeting efforts. IMF Working Paper 16/155.Google Scholar
  48. Schmitz, C. (2006). Now it’s about the money: Mainstreaming a gender equality perspective into Nordic national budgets. Final Project Report 2004–2006. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers.Google Scholar
  49. Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J. P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Paris: Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, OECD.Google Scholar
  50. Straus, M. A. (2005). Women’s violence toward men is a serious social problem. In D. R. Loseke, R. J. Gelles, & M. M. Cavanaugh (Eds.), Current controversies on family violence (Vol. 2, pp. 55–77). Thousand Oaks, London and New Delhi: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Towers, J., & Walby, S. (2012). Measuring the impact of cuts in public expenditure on the provision of services to prevent violence against women and girls. Lancaster University.Google Scholar
  52. United Nations Development Programme. (2015). Human Development Report 2015: Work for human development. Retrieved from
  53. United Nations General Assembly. (2000). Further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, Unedited final outcome document as adopted by the plenary of the special session entitled. “Women 2000: Gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century” (&109). Retrieved from
  54. Varjonen, J., & Kirjavainen, L. M. (2014). Women’s Unpaid Work Was Counted But... In M. Bjørnholt & A. McKay (Eds.), Counting on Marilyn Waring: New advances in feminist economics (pp. 73–90). Bradford: Demeter Press.Google Scholar
  55. Walby, S. (2004). The cost of domestic violence. London: Department of Trade and Industry.Google Scholar
  56. Walby, S., Towers, J., & Francis, B. (2016). Is violent crime increasing or decreasing? A new methodology to measure repeat attacks making visible the significance of gender and domestic relations. British Journal of Criminology, 56(6), 1203–1234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Waring, M. (1988). If women counted: A new feminist economics. San Francisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  58. Waring, M. (2015). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  59. Warren, K. J. (1996). Ecological feminist philosophies: An overview of the issues. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  60. World Health Organization, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Manual for estimating the economic costs of injuries due to interpersonal and self-directed violence. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  61. Yodanis, C. L., Godenzi, A., & Stanko, E. A. (2000). The benefits of studying costs: A review and agenda for studies on the economic costs of violence against women. Policy Studies, 21(3), 263–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margunn Bjørnholt
    • 1
  1. 1.Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress StudiesOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations