COVID-19 and Discrimination – Women

‘We’re all in it together’ was the mantra back in March when Rishi Sunak tried to bring the country together in the face of an unknown threat.

The Chancellor unveiled a mammoth fiscal package to battle an unprecedented foe, designed to keep the country, its people and the economy on their feet. But our experience over the last six months has taught us that some of us are more ‘in it’ than others, as COVID-19 has turned out to be not a leveller, but a virus which can fuel inequality.

In August, here at HDN, we held a webinar around COVID and Discrimination with London based barristers Rachel Owusu-Agyei and Betsan Criddle providing professional insight.

Following on from that chat we’ve taken a look at three sections of our society most affected by the virus. Today we discuss how women have fared during the pandemic.

In May the Sunday Times reported that working mothers were being driven back to the kitchen sink by the coronavirus crisis. A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that women had taken on the lion’s share of childcare and home education since the March closures, twice as much as fathers in many cases.

But this month’s return to school hasn’t ended the problem for women, who, according to the IFS, were far more likely to be furloughed or lose their jobs. Some women even asked to be furloughed as they struggled to juggle responsibilities, the dilemma worsened by the unavailability of grandparents to help while the elderly were carefully shielding.

The surveys conducted by the University College London found that mothers across several age groups bore the brunt of childcare, while those with primary school aged children were much more likely to give up work than fathers.

It appears that 2020 looks more like 1970 for some of us in this strangest of all years.

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