New data reveals “crisis of support” for BAME women
Date Posted: Monday 8th June 2020
Half of disabled or retired BAME women say they do not know where to go for help vs 1 in 5 white women
Half of disabled or retired BAME women say they do not know where to go for help vs 1 in 5 white women
45% of BAME women are struggling to cope with demands on their time
New polling analysis released today reveals the pressure on BAME women during the coronavirus lockdown. 43% of disabled or retired BAME women and 48% BAME men say that they had lost government support compared with 13% white women and 21% white men. Over half (51%) of BAME women say they were not sure where to turn for help compared with 1 in 5 (19%) white women.
This is despite the fact that BAME people have been found to be more at risk during the pandemic. The recent Public Health England review confirmed that the risk of dying among those diagnosed with coronavirus is higher within BAME groups than in white ethnic groups.
Unequal pressures are also being felt at work and at home. BAME people working from home are more likely to say they are working more than prior to lockdown, with 4 in 10 (41% women and 40% men) agreeing compared with 3 in 10 white people (29% women, 29% men). Nearly half of BAME women (45%) say they are struggling to cope with the demands on their time, compared with 35% of white women and 30% of white men.
The analysis from Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and London School of Economics shows that these health impacts are just one of the many disproportionate impacts the pandemic is having on BAME people. The physical, psychological and financial impact of coronavirus is being felt sharply by the BAME community and in particular amongst BAME women.
Concerns about debt are disproportionately high; 42.9% BAME women said they believed they would be in more debt, than before the pandemic compared to 37.1% of white women, and 34.2% of white men.
Nearly a quarter of BAME mothers reported that they were struggling to feed their children (23.7%, compared to 19% of white mothers).
Access to support and services
Over twice as many disabled or retired BAME women and men reported that they had recently lost support from the government (42.5% and 48.3%) than white women and men in these groups (12.7% and 20.6%).
BAME respondents in this group were also more likely to say they had lost support from other people (48.3% BAME women compared to 34.0% white women) and were less likely to say that there were people outside of their household who they could rely on for help (47.4% compared to 57.2%).
65.1% BAME women and 73.8% of BAME men working outside the home reported anxiety as a result of having to go out to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Zubaida Haque, Interim Director of the Runnymede Trust said:
“Covid-19 has brought the harsh realities of pre-existing racial inequalities into sharp relief, and nowhere is this more manifest than the disproportionate social and economic impact of covid-19 on black and ethnic minority women. This survey starkly illustrates the higher levels of health and economic burden among BME women, including the higher proportions of BME mothers reporting that they are struggling to feed their children, compared to their white counterparts. Unless the Chancellor takes more steps to strengthen the social security safety net during Covid-19, the racial inequality gap between BME and white groups will get even wider, leaving BME groups, and BME women in particular, even more vulnerable to the bleak and unequal consequences of Covid-19.”
Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said:
“The report from Public Health England showed that BAME communities are disproportionately likely to become seriously ill and die from Covid-19. What we now see is that the social, financial and psychological impacts of the pandemic are worse for BAME people too. It is particularly concerning that BAME women are reporting limited access to support from the Government. It is crucial that the Government carries out and publishes meaningful equality impact assessments on the impact of both the virus itself and their policies in response to it.”
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:
“Disabled and older BAME women are experiencing a crisis of support as they are also hit harder by the effects of the pandemic. It is no surprise that BAME women also report the lowest levels of life satisfaction and happiness too. As the Government relaxes the lockdown it must consider the impacts on different ethnic groups and also adopt a gendered approach. The unequal impact of this crisis is driven by existing structural inequalities and discrimination in our society. Addressing that must be the focus of any plan going forward.”
Professor Sophie Harman, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London noted:
“Questions of race, ethnicity, and health have long been too easily dismissed as a problem of class or socio-economic status, how can the UK have a problem of racial inequality in a socialised health system? COVID-19 is a bleak wake-up to those who need to see racial inequality in UK healthcare.”
Dr Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy, London School of Economics:
“That BAME communities are differentially affected by COVID-19 and the government’s response to it is not unsurprising. Evidence from previous outbreaks of infectious disease demonstrate similar trends and expose underlying social determinants of health. The more pertinent question is how can we take steps to ensure government policy can mitigate against these downstream implications on the most marginalised groups”
Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:
“This new evidence shows that those in power have avoided tackling the issues of systemic racism and structural inequalities for far too long and this avoidance has worsened outcomes for BAME women in particular. Nurses, some of whom are BAME women themselves, see this in their work every day. The message is clear: equality and inclusion are the bedrock for good health, prosperity and a cohesive society. It is time for us to all talk seriously about the racism disadvantage some women face compared to the privilege of others, and take action.”
Work & employment
– A higher proportion of BAME people (41.0% of women and 39.8% of men) who are working from home reported working more than before the pandemic, compared to white people (29.2% of women and 28.5% of men).
– Work-related anxiety was highest among BAME people, with 65.1% BAME women and 73.8% of BAME men who are working outside the home reporting anxiety as a result of having to go out to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Poverty & debt
– BAME women are particularly worried about being in more debt as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 42.9% BAME women said they believed they would be in more debt, compared to 37.1% of white women, and 34.2% of white men. A similar proportion, 42.9%, said they would struggle to make ends meet over the next three months.
– Higher proportions of BAME mothers reported that they were struggling to feed their children (23.7%, compared to 19% of white mothers).
Domestic & care work
– Nearly half of BAME women (45.4%) said they were struggling to cope with all the different demands on their time at the moment, compared to 29.6% of white men.
– Around three quarters of women reported doing the majority of the housework or of the childcare during lockdown. This was similar for BAME and white women.
– Almost half (45.8%) of parents said they were struggling to balance paid work and caring for their children, 47.1% that they were struggling with all the competing demands, and 42.7% that they were struggling to go to the shops or do other tasks because their children were home. For all of these questions, BAME women were most likely to report that they were struggling, and white men least likely.
– 2% of BAME women said their children do not have access to the equipment they need, compared to 25.6% of white women.
Access to support
– Over twice as many retired or disabled BAME women and men reported that they had recently lost support from the government (42.5% and 48.3%) than white women and men in the same group (12.7% and 20.6%).
– Retired or disabled BAME respondents were also more likely to say they had lost support from other people (48.3% BAME women compared to 34.0% white women) and were less likely to say that there were people outside of their household who they could rely on for help (47.4% compared to 57.2%).
– Over half of this group of BAME women said that they were ‘not sure where to turn for help as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, compared to 18.7% of white women.
Health & wellbeing
– Women in general and BAME women in particular expressed more concern about access to NHS treatment and medicine over the coming months.
– Around 2 in 5 people said they were finding social isolation difficult to cope with, but this was lowest among white men (37.4%).
– Life satisfaction and happiness were lowest for BAME women, and anxiety was highest for all women compared to men.
Women’s Budget Group
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Note on data
Throughout the briefing we use the term BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity) and report on findings for BAME women as a whole. We acknowledge the limitations of this approach, as the experiences of different women and men who will fall within that artificial grouping will vary considerably. However, within the limitations of the sample size that the funding for this research permitted, data we hold for any smaller groupings by ethnicity would not be sufficiently large for the findings to be reliable and we would therefore be at risk of drawing incorrect conclusions about different women’s experiences.
As such, this research is of value in as much as it helps to demonstrate how elements of racialisation and racialised socio-economic disadvantage, intersecting with gender and disability, differently impact on BAME women and men when analysed as a group. We also acknowledge that many people prefer to self-identify using other terms such as people of colour.
Our research is drawn from data collected by Survation on behalf of the Fawcett Society via online panel, with fieldwork conducted 15 – 21 April 2020. Invitations to complete surveys were sent out to members of online panels. Differential response rates from different demographic groups were taken into account.
The survey comprised an overall nationally representative sample and filtered booster samples drawn from online panels used to ensure sample sizes for populations of interest were robust. These populations included parents with at least one child aged 11 or under, people with low income (below the median), and BAME respondents. With these booster samples included, the total sample comprised 3,280 respondents. This included 448 BAME women and 401 BAME men, and 1,308 white women. The authors of this report then weighted the data to the current Labour Force Survey on age, gender, region, and education for each population, and conducted analysis.
For the majority of questions included in the survey, respondents were asked to respond on a 5-point Likert scale: ‘Strongly agree,’ ‘Somewhat agree,’ ‘Neither agree nor disagree,’ ‘Somewhat disagree,’ or ‘Strongly disagree.’ Throughout this briefing, responses strongly agree and somewhat agree were combined for parsimony in reporting results.
Only results that are statistically significant are highlighted in the text throughout this report. Because only a sample of the full population was interviewed, all results are subject to margin of error, meaning that not all differences are statistically significant. For example, in a question where 50% (the worst-case scenario as far as margin of error is concerned) gave a particular answer, with the sample of BAME women (448) it is 95% certain that the ‘true’ value will fall within the range of 4.6% from the sample result. With larger samples there is more precision in the estimates; with the sample of 1,308 white women it is 95% certain that the ‘true’ value will fall within the range of 2.7% from the sample result.
The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is an independent network of leading academic researchers, policy experts and campaigners that analyses economic policy for its impact on women and men and promotes alternatives for a gender equal economy. Our work on coronavirus can be accessed at: https://wbg.org.uk/topics/covid-19/
The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home and in public life. Our vision is a society in which women and girls in all their diversity are equal and truly free to fulfil their potential creating a stronger, happier, better future for us all.
Queen Mary University of London is a research-intensive university that connects minds worldwide. A member of the prestigious Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our world-leading research. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework we were ranked 5th in the country for the proportion of research outputs that were world-leading or internationally excellent. We have over 25,000 students and offer more than 240-degree programmes. Our reputation for excellent teaching was rewarded with silver in the most recent Teaching Excellence Framework. Queen Mary has a proud and distinctive history built on four historic institutions stretching back to 1785 and beyond. Common to each of these institutions – the London Hospital Medical College, St Bartholomew’s Medical College, Westfield College and Queen Mary College – was the vision to provide hope and opportunity for the less privileged or otherwise under-represented. Today, Queen Mary University of London remains true to that belief in opening the doors of opportunity for anyone with the potential to succeed and helping to build a future we can all be proud of.
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) studies the social sciences in their broadest sense, with an academic profile spanning a wide range of disciplines, from economics, politics and law, to sociology, information systems and accounting and finance. The School has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence and is one of the most international universities in the world. Its study of social, economic and political problems focuses on the different perspectives and experiences of most countries. From its foundation LSE has aimed to be a laboratory of the social sciences, a place where ideas are developed, analysed, evaluated and disseminated around the globe.