Despite the differing institutional contexts, there are similarities in the feminist activism of women’s budget groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland. An important aspect of the work in both jurisdictions was the need to learn from the work of sister organisations, locally and internationally.
Both groups made use of existing networks, working with women’s, feminist and other advocacy organisations. Through collective efforts they built voice and visibility to the question of women’s economic status and the gendered effects of UK and devolved government policy.
Crucial to creating a women’s budget group is the tenacity and commitment of members. In these case studies members have limited resources but work to maintain a consistent and continuous presence in discussions on budgeting and policy.
The focus of a women’s budget group will depend on the make-up of its members. A dominance of members with links to women’s organisations and NGOs created conditions for direct protests and campaigns in Northern Ireland, whereas a membership dominated by academics and civil servants led to more policy analysis in Scotland.
It is clear though, that while the nature of the tension with government may be different, women’s budget groups have a common need to maintain pressure from outside of governmental institutions and hold government to account for its promises and actions.