March 8th is International Women’s Day.

This year, International Women’s Day falls a year into a pandemic which has had huge consequences for women’s equality.

Covid has had a disproportionate impact on women:

–              Women are more likely to work in low paid or shutdown sectors.

–              More likely to have taken on more caring responsibilities.

–              And young women are particularly vulnerable to losing their jobs.

The Tory Government has failed to address these facts in any of its economic responses to the pandemic, including last week’s Budget statement. They’ve overlooked women, time and time again Women’s equality at home and at work is backsliding on Boris Johnson’s watch.

Women have been on the frontline of this crisis – caring for the sick and delivering the vaccine. But the government have turned their back on them and want to cut their pay (in England).

As a result, the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on women has been huge: women are more likely to be furloughed, more likely to take on home-schooling and less likely to qualify for sick pay.

Ethnic minority women have been hit hardest by job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, with unemployment hitting 8.8 per cent, up from 6.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2019.

  • Young women are more likely to work in sectors shut down for nearly a whole year like retail, hospitality and tourism.
  • 70,000 pregnant women and new mothers have been discriminated against in the income support schemes.

Lockdown has seen a huge increase in violence against women and girls including domestic abuse and domestic abuse related deaths.

Support for women fleeing domestic abuse is in decline at a time when women need it most. Demand for services far outstrips supply. It is vital that all survivors receive the support they need and the government must do more to ensure they do.

Labour argue that a gendered response to the economic crisis ahead of us is needed. Labour is calling for the Government to give parents a right to furlough, reinstate gender pay reporting and pay all health and social care workers a decent living wage.

Here’s how we would do it:

Secure the economy

  • Reinstate gender pay gap reporting immediately, bring forward ethnicity pay gap reporting
    • Modernise equal pay legislation so that women have the right to know what male colleagues doing the same work earn
    • Introduce a legal right to furlough for all parents

Protect the NHS

  • Pay all health and care workers a decent living wage
  • Undertake an urgent inquiry into Black Maternal Health

Rebuild the country

  • Undertake equality impact assessment on all pandemic responses
  • Enact Section 106 of the Equality Act so that all parties publish diversity data on candidates standing for all election
  • Publish a list of how many jobs for women and men are created by Kickstart and Restart as part of a robust equality impact assessment
  • We need smart furlough accompanied by training opportunities. Labour’s jobs promise would deliver better jobs for all young people.
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