Covid- 19 and women: What we know so far…

Date Posted: Thursday 21st May 2020

Women are doing more unpaid work, at high risk of losing their job and are more likely to be pushed further into poverty as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.

New data is coming out daily showing the different ways in which this crisis is having a gendered impact. So, what do we know so far?

Women are doing even more care

According to researchers at Cambridge University, since nurseries and schools have closed women  in the UK spend over 3.5 hours on childcare on average, while men spend under 2.5 hours.

Since the lockdown, a quarter of nurseries have reported closures within the year due to financial trouble.

Although primary schools and nurseries are gradually re-opening, social distancing means those children who do return will only be able to do so part time and most children will not be back in school until the autumn.

This means that…

Women are in danger of being shut out of the labour market.

Data from Resolution Foundation shows that 1 in 10 lower earners cannot work from home. 69% of low earners are women. Women and low earners are also more likely to rely on public transport than men, putting them at increased risk if they must travel to work.

Research conducted by Cambridge University shows that women in the UK are 4% more likely to have lost their job than men. 33% of cleaners and maintenance staff report losing their jobs from 9-14 April. This is of particular concern given the overrepresentation of migrant workers with no access to social security including Universal Credit.

Data from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that 36% of young women worked in sectors that have been closed due to the lockdown. This includes the hospitality sector where we will start to see the full extent of the economic fallout once the lockdown is lifted.

Women are set to own and earn even less

Data from Turn 2 Us shows that women expect their incomes to fall by 26% (£309) compared to 18% (£247) for men. In two-parent households women’s income is expected to fall by £405 compared to £309 for men.  This would result of an increase in the gender pay gap of £62 a month (15% )

Polling by Women’s Budget Group (WBG) with Fawcett Society and academics at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Queen Mary University London (QMUL) shows that 57% of parents with young children face higher levels of debt after the crisis.

Data from Turn 2 Us also showed that 66% of single parents anticipated they would have £1,000 or less in April to live on. 42% of single parents anticipated they would have £500 or less to live on.

90% of single parents are women.

The polling by WBG, Fawcett Society, LSE and QMUL found that that 56% of single parents stated they would struggle to make ends meet in the next 3 months.

The economic situation is far worse for women who are on the frontline of the crisis…

Women on the frontline of Covid- 19

Data from Autonomy UK shows that Care workers are dying at a higher rate than any other occupational category.   66 women and 32 men who work as care workers have died due to Covid- 19.

Furthermore, 77% of the workforce at high risk of exposure to Covid- 19 are women and 98% of workers at high risk of exposure to Covid 19 within low paid jobs are women.

The BBC reported that 80% of homecare providers reported inadequate PPE. These jobs are at high exposure to Covid- 19. 83% of the social care workforce are women.

In light of all this data it comes as no surprise that women on the frontline report some of the greatest levels of anxiety. 56% of those who are working outside the home report anxiety levels of 7 or more.

Many of the sectors on the frontline of Covid- 19 including health and social care workers have an  overrepresentation of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority women and migrant women.

Our recent report Migrant Women and the Economy shows that 77% of NHS workforce are women and 3.3% of the NHS workforce are migrants. In the social care workforce, 83% are women and 17% of the workforce are migrants.

However, the situation is not only stark for BME people providing care but also for different groups of women.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that Black women are 4.3 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than their white counterparts. Black men are 4.2 times more likely to die.

A recent report published by Sisters of Frida shows that 26% of households with a disabled person are in poverty already struggling to make ends meet. Panic buying, longer queues and fewer delivery options means that access as well as affordability to food is a real concern for disabled women during this pandemic.

We also know that women are more likely to experience domestic and sexual violence in their lifetime and the lockdown has seen a 25% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline since the lockdown started.

This data highlights that the government must do more to  mitigate the worst effects of the  pandemic on women and vulnerable groups who are set to lose the most. Read the recommendations we have published that can help ensure that no one is left behind on the long road to economic recovery.