The lockdown is turning back the clock on women’s lives in Britain
Date Posted: Tuesday 30th June 2020
SIR – We are concerned that the long-term impact on women is being overlooked in the Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
We don’t deny that men have been affected disproportionately by the virus itself, but evidence shows that the damage done to women in Britain during the pandemic could last for years – and set them back decades.
New research by the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Budget Group has already found that the response to the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect on women in all sectors and age groups.
According to the Resolution Foundation, women are more likely than men to be working in sectors that have shut down during the pandemic. Mothers are almost 50 per cent more likely than fathers to have either lost their job or quit, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown.
One in four women who have been pregnant or on maternity leave during the pandemic have experienced unfair treatment at work – singled out for redundancy or furlough. Women are also more likely to be caring for an elderly relative, according to Carers UK. More working mothers are having to take unpaid leave or voluntary furlough in order to care for family members during lockdown.
The death rate for Covid-19 in black, Asian and minority ethnic women is up to twice as high as for white men.
Lockdown will long delay closing the gender pay gap. Women are losing out on income and pension contribution. But it’s not only financial hardship. During lockdown, demand for Refuge’s national domestic abuse helpline has risen by 66 per cent.
Sportswomen, too, face an uncertain future. The last women’s team sport fixture in this country was on March 14. Yet all the focus has been on male-dominated sports.
The lockdown is turning back the clock on women’s lives in Britain. We call on the Government to take action to halt this reversal.
We are asking the Government to pledge that, when lockdown policy decisions are being taken, there is meaningful representation of women and that the impact of policy on women’s lives is always fully assessed.
Dame Helena Morrissey
Baroness Bakewell (Lab)
Chair, My Wardrobe HQ
Sonia Friedman OBE
Founder, The WOW Foundation
Baroness Altmann (Con)
Caroline Nokes MP (Con)
Chair, The Women and Equalities Select Committee
Vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Facebook
Baroness Morgan of Cotes (Con)
Global co-chairman, 30% Club
CEO, The Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
Co-founder and CEO, The Five Foundation
Catherine McKinnell MP (Lab)
Chair of the Petitions Committee
Chief Executive, Fawcett Society
Director, Women’s Budget Group
Dame Heather Rabbatts
Manager, Chelsea Women’s Football Club
Harriett Baldwin MP (Con)
Clive Betts MP (Lab)
Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee
Chief Executive, The National Residential Landlords Association
Chief Executive, Royal London
Chief Executive, Chartered Insurance Institute
Charity Director, Age UK
Founder, EveryDay Sexism
Director, Maternity Action
Founder and CEO, Pregnant then Screwed
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Cherie Blair QC
Founder, Women of the Future
Co-founder, Green & Black’s
Author, The Body Bible and Everyday Fitness
General Secretary, The Trades Union Congress
Siobhain McDonagh MP (Lab)
Barbara Keeley MP (Lab)
Chief Executive, Surviving Economic Abuse
Chief Executive, Shelter
Chief Executive, Carers UK
Director of Operations, Refuge
Acting CEO, Women’s Aid
Jane van Zyl
Chief Executive, Working Families
CEO, Jupiter Asset Management
Head of Personal Finance, Interactive Investor
Chief Executive, Sport and Recreation Alliance
CEO, Santander UK
Chief Operations Officer, The Investing and Savings Alliance