An interesting, if worrying, set of statistics from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation originally published on International Women's Day (I confess to playing catch-up at the moment, hence the delay). They lay bare how much there still is to do if we are to see gender parity. A few areas struck me.
First, the impact on single mothers. We know what a massive struggle homeschooling has been for many people trying to juggle work, domestic demands and children. Add into that mix that women were much more likely to be refused furlough and many single women either being forced to reduce hours or exist on benefits and you have a recipe for more single mothers being behind on their bills while being at greater risk of anxiety, stress and burnout.
Secondly, the impact on young mothers. We know young people have been hard-hit by the pandemic but the fact that young women have been 87% more likely to lose their jobs is alarming and has driven their unemployment rate up to 11.1% - nearly 2.5 times as high as that for all women.
And finally, the impact has also been disproportionate on women from BAME populations with 1 in 8 of them working in insecure, low-paid, high-risk roles compared with 1 in 16 white women. This in turn has contributed to higher levels of anxiety and bigger challenges to get through what has been a tough time for the luckiest of us.
The above highlights and amplifies what we know. The pandemic, lockdowns and economic impacts have widened inequalities increasing the gender gap, increasing the challenges for young people and increasing the pressures and poverty for many people from BAME communities. Each of these factors will, inevitably, compound any challenges or problems still further.
Let's hope that this situation improves considerably before the next International Women's Day and in the meantime, we can try to mitigate the impacts as best we can.
I believe that those who set all these laws don’t see how much difference a sum like £20 makes. To them, it’s only £20 but if you’re on Universal Credit (UC), you know exactly the figure you’re getting, you know exactly what figure your bills are, you know exactly where all your money is going. I’m a single mum and I depend on UC – it’s not because I want to be, it’s because I don’t have a choice. £20 seems like a small amount – when I was working I might not have thought about that £20 but now I’m on UC I really feel it.