For most of us 2020 may be a year we want to forget. But there are important lessons to be had if the recovery from Covid-19 and the economic fallout is going to work to redress the inequalities that have been laid bare this year.
Covid-19 has affected people’s lives across the world. Families have lost loved ones. Jobs have been lost. Isolation has grown. Support has been lost. But these impacts have not affected us all equally. There’s been decisions in households across Scotland about having to continue in a job without the personal protective equipment you need; or about giving up work because there was no one to look after your children.
Women have faced particular challenges and many found themselves at the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis, making up the majority of health and care workers and the majority of workers at high risk of exposure to Covid-19. But all too often in jobs that are underpaid and undervalued. Alongside this, other sectors which have a predominately female workforce have been harder hit by the impact of lockdown and ongoing restrictions of social distancing, with risk of unemployment or reducing working hours remaining high.
What is clear is that the impact of Covid-19 has sharpened existing inequalities and risks many more people being swept up in a rising tide of poverty.
This must now be seen as a time for transformation. As we recover from Covid-19 we need to consider together what we value in our economy, how public spending invests in these values, and how we can stand together to create change. Throughout the lockdown people demonstrated the desire to come together to support others or show solidarity. From clapping on doorsteps, to community mutual aid groups and the fantastic work of grassroots organisations across the country. 2020 has shown us that we can come together and provide solutions.
As 2020 draws to a close we wanted to share some good reads from the year to help us think about what’s needed as part of the recovery process:
Caring Economy Now – final report by the UK Commission for a Gender Equal Economy calling for transformative change to the economy and where public spending is invested;
Gender and Economic Recovery – Close the Gap and Engender bring together 9 principles for economic recovery which we fully endorse;
Carrying the work burden of Covid-19 – working class women in the UK research from Nottingham University Business School;
Covid-19 and economic challenges for migrant women policy briefing from the UK Women’s Budget Group;
Our World Reimagined webinar on a Gender Equal Economy part of a webinar series run by GCVS;
Supercharged: A Human Catastrophe on Inequalities, Participation and Human Rights before, during and beyond Covid-19 from Glasgow Disability Alliance;
Towards a Feminist Green New Deal from WEN (Women’s Environmental Network and the UK Women’s Budget Group;
Gender differences in the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on unpaid care work and psychological distress in the UK.
As 2021 dawns it is an important year for change. Join us as we work to tackle inequalities through gender responsive budgeting, working to ensure that public spending decisions recognise the different challenges faced by women and men. Over the coming weeks and months we’ll be sharing events and training for you to get involved and be part of the change.
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