Reporter Giulia Bernacchi
On Monday 2nd of November, Bristol Women’s Voice launched the City Listening Project Report through an online roundtable talk. Women attending included those who had researched the multiple and intersecting barriers that women face within the city of Bristol, and how this has been impacted by the current ongoing pandemic.
The City Listening Project gathered information through conversations with a range of women from across Bristol. The researchers listened to their stories so Bristol Women’s Voice could give more meaning to data being collected about widening inequalities and prioritise issues to better the lives of the women throughout our city.
Dr Emma Griffin, a participatory researcher who’s spent several years alongside communities to co-create ideas for tackling social inequalities mainly in Bristol, began the report with a focus on the lack of affordable housing within Bristol, and its impacts on women. She found that this was a significant issue as it restricted victims of domestic abuse willing to flee their home.
More specifically, she found that the Somali women she interviewed were rehoused to unsafe areas within the city which, in turn, only created additional concern for their safety and well-being. Griffin recommended improving the quality of housing and providing a grant for parents that wished to relocate.
Griffin’s other findings included the lack of mental health services and the lack of flexibility the NHS has when creating appointments for working mothers. Stay At home aid for mothers was recommended. She also mentioned this could also benefit mothers who wish to go back into education to better their lives.
Lastly, she touched on the issue of the lack of representation of disabled women in businesses. In regard to COVID-19, Sue Cohen, on the national Steering Committee of the Women’s Budget Group’s Commission on Gender Equality and on the Economic Task Force of the Women’s Commission in Bristol, questioned the governments’ investment in women’s lives during these unprecedented times.
This introduced Marnie Woodmeade and Amy Gibbs, interns funded by the University of Bristol’s SME fund, research on the impact’s women faced with from the coronavirus. Their findings were that women’s health was at most risk, especially mental health. Intersectionality was highlighted, where BAME women, who are more susceptible to the disease often due to greater exposure, had more problems with accessing health services.
Additional findings included that women within the caretaker and emotional labour industry were highly negatively impacted.
Lastly, they found that women looking to relocate due to their living conditions during lockdown were refused housing. They shared a mother’s experience during lockdown where she was stuck in her flat on the 10th floor because their elevator was broken, and this was a significant challenge with spending time outdoors and going for her weekly shops.
Rosalyn Ball, the head of the Listening Platform Team-Government Equalities Office, concluded that this project was significant as it found more than just data, but stories through their conversations. She shared that this report will benefit policymakers to prioritise women’s issues.