Universal Basic Income and Gender (UBIG)

UBI has the potential to transform society. But historically and up to the present it has been dominated by men and male voices who have set their perspectives as the norm, with female voices as an addendum. We now wish to make women’s voices on UBI visible. Our research aims to capture female voices on the topic of UBI and to include more women in the economic discourse and participation. If feminists designed a UBI, how would it look? Would it be different from the dominant models and discourse? And what important implications would a feminist-centered UBI have, be it for policy, activism or research? We seek to investigate within a more expansive definition of what constitutes a “feminist” basic income, to shift from an emphasis on women to structurally gendered and other forms of oppression.

The framework for our research is as follows:

First, we want to outline the key concepts of gender, feminism, the feminization of poverty, and UBI as a possible response by summarising relevant theories, literature, and debates on the topic to incorporate some of the “expert” narratives with those from the grassroots and community level. One key point is to acknowledge that there are existing debates in feminist literature on universal basic income, namely whether UBI liberates women or drives them to commit to unpaid care work. Here is a strong connection to the work of another FRIBIS TEAM: Care und UBI.

Second, we are planning key informant interviews with feminist activists and scholars, both those who are active in the UBI space and those who are not. Another key focus of our work is to include critical voices in order to learn from views opposed to the idea of basic income. Using our international connections in academia and activism, we aim to capture a diverse range of female and feminist voices. Chloe Halpenny has already conducted interviews with women who participated in the Ontario UBI experiment for her master’s thesis.

By reconstructing “grassroots feminist economic and political thought” from testimony by those women who raised their voices on UBI, and based on the research and interviews described above, we wish to suggest their relevance and potential to a new social contract for real gender equality. Toru Yamamori’s ongoing research has revealed the totally forgotten fact that UBI was one of the officially and democratically determined demands of the British Women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. Below is a summary of her planned research on the topic.

Research Team

Dr. Liz Fouksman
Elizaveta Fouksman is a Lecturer (equiv. Assistant Professor) in Social Justice at the Centre for Public Policy Research at King’s College London. She is also a research associate of the University of Oxford and the University of the Witwatersrand.
She has a DPhil in International Development from the University of Oxford (where she was a Rhodes Scholar), and has held research fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the Berggruen Institute and the Ford Foundation at (respectively) the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the University of the Witwatersrand.
Liz focuses on the ways the long-term unemployed in countries with high inequality and unemployment rates think about links between time-use, work, and income. Much of her fieldwork in South Africa and Namibia asks how such links challenge both proposals to expand social protection through means such as unconditional cash transfers, as well as more radical calls for the decommodification of labor via mechanisms such as a universal basic income guarantee and/or shorter working hours.
Liz has written popular press articles for OpenDemocracy, The Conversation and the Global Labour Journal.
Lives in Oxford, UK

Chloe Halpenny
Chloe is a social policy researcher at the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation  and a basic income advocate based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her Master’s dissertation at the University of Cambridge, “Basic Income: A Feminist Proposal? Informing feminist analyses through the lived experience of Ontario Basic Income Pilot participants,” focused on participant experiences in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot project, which ran between 2018 and 2019 in three Ontario municipalities. Her research comprised a critical feminist analysis of basic income, drawing on original qualitative interview data with 26 participants in the pilot. Chloe is a co-founder and co-chair of the Basic Income Canadian Youth Network and Youth Liaison for the Ontario Basic Income Network.
Chloe Halpenny: “Youth Voices are Needed in the Basic Income Debate
“All Canadian Youth Deserve a Future”, a Conversation with Chloe Halpenny about Guaranteed Livable Income
Lives in Ottawa, Canada

Prof. Dr. Kaori Katada
Associate Professor at Hosei University in Tokyo, Department of Social and Political Sciences.
Kaori Katada has specialized in gender and UBI for many years.
Article by her on UBI in the Center for Gender Studies
Lives in Tokyo, Japan

Prof. Dr. Toru Yamamori
Professor in Economics at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan.
Toru Yamamori has been working on philosophical foundation of feminist economics, and on oral history of the working-class women’s liberation movement that demanded UBI in the 1970’s Britain. The former is recognised with the award of the 2017 K. W. Kapp Prize from the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy, the second-largest association for economists in Europe. The latter won the 2014 Basic Income Studies Best Essay prize.
Video Interview with Toru Yamamori at the BIEN Congress 2014 in Montreal.
Toru Yamamori is the academic research editor of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network)
Lives in Kyoto, Japan

Prof. Dr. Almaz Zelleke
Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University and an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University, Professor of Practice in Political Science at New York University Shanghai.
Prof. Zelleke teaches at Harvard University and the New York School. She specializes in UBI, including gender, is involved in BIEN and NABIG, and has published on UBI issues.
Lives in NYC, USA

FRIBIS Team Coordinator

Jessica Schulz
studied German Philology and Theatre Studies at the Free University of Berlin and at the Université Huit Vincennes-Saint-Denis in Paris. She completed her Master’s degree in German as a Foreign Language: Cultural Mediation at the Free University of Berlin and at the Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès. In her dissertation at the University of Freiburg, she is working on the issue of the influence of the UBI on individual learning processes.
Lives in Freiburg, Germany

Contact: jessica.schulz@fribis.uni-freiburg.de

Transfer Team

Barb Jacobson
Former head of the European Basic Income Network, head of BIEN UK, involved in the decision of the Labor Party in the UK to include BI in the program, collaboration with David Graeber, specializing in UBI and gender among other issues.
Director of BIEN News | Newsletter.
Lives in London, UK

Renana Jhabvala
She has been a leader in SEWA a trade union with 1.8 million women members, and is now the president of SEWA Bharat the All-India organization within SEWA family, and she is co-initiator of UBI for women projects in Delhi and 2013 in Madhya Pradesh, the large and well-known UBI project in several villages India. At the project in Madhya Pradesh were involved also Prof. Guy Standing, co-founder of BIEN, and Dr. Sarath Davala, Chair of BIEN.
Lives in Ahmedabad, India