We are in extraordinary times and the impact on everything we have taken for granted is something we are all struggling with. There are many decisions that the government has taken that affect women, and some decisions that may affect us adversely. Whilst we understand that we are in challenging times, we also need the government to consider the impact of COVID-19 for women.
So we need your help. We want to know your personal experience so that we are able to collect real-time voices and relay our individual and collective experiences to both local and central government.
Although we have been, and have the potential to be affected in various ways,
there is a glaring omission in decision making. As the Fawcett Society say in its statement signed by many women’s organisations, “Women and girls in the UK have been largely invisible from the debate and excluded from decision making.” This is in contrast to the impact that the virus itself and the measures to combat it will have on women.
- Low paid women are at particularly high risk of exposure to the virus as many work in social and healthcare, supermarkets and corner shops
- Out of the estimate of 3.2m workers employed in highest risk roles, 2.5m are women. 89% nurses and 84% of care workers are women
- About 1m of those women who normally work closely with the public and people who are frail and have diseases and infections are amongst the lowest paid
- 2m employees have no entitlement to sick pay. 70% of those are women
- Less than 1 in 10 of the lowest half of earners can work from home.
- Women are over represented in jobs that have disappeared in the crisis – e.g. retail, hospitality, travel, cleaning, arts and entertainment, personal services such as hairdressing.
Pregnant women have particular problems.
1 in 5 midwifery posts are either unfilled or midwives are redeployed or sick and self-isolating meaning that the care of pregnant women is reduced
Pregnant women are being advised to self isolate and employers have a duty to protect them.
The TUC says “If pregnant women can’t work at home in their current role, employers must offer them other suitable work at the same rate of pay that can be done safely or suspend them on full pay.
Putting pregnant women who cannot work from home on sick pay rather than suspending them on full pay is legally wrong and has implications for maternity pay.”
Families with new babies can’t afford to lose out on income that they are entitled to.
Please contact BWV or Bristol Law Centre if this is happening to you
The crisis is showing the problems of the lack of affordable, flexible childcare.
Nurseries, like schools, have closed but most nurseries rely on the extra fees that parents pay on top of the government funding. Some parents are being asked to pay fees, “to secure their place” when they are able to reopen and many providers are saying that they will not be able to keep going at all.
Even those who are designated essential workers are struggling with the hours of childcare provided without the support of grandparents, friends and childminders.
Parents, mainly women, are having to take unpaid leave to look after children.
All of these impacts are greatest for BAME women and disabled women who are most likely to be in the lowest paid and least flexible work.
The list of essential workers covers many of the jobs that women do. Perhaps society will finally recognise how vital these roles are and they will be properly paid and recognised in the future.
We want to hear from you, please contact us with your experience of how COVID-19 Coronavirus has affected you or your family. Please respond to us at firstname.lastname@example.org