Briefly… when Covid-19 reached global pandemic stage, I envisioned a world were women would have a better chance of working from home and/or granted flexi hours. Then the reports started coming about lost jobs and furloughs and how women were badly affected. I realised it’s still a long road before we have a fair chance in the workplace whether it’s staying in or returning to the job market. What I have learnt in the 8 years and 10 months as a stay at home mother is that polices must be made to support women whether we are self-employed or salaried. There should be a genuine option to work part-time, work flexi time and/or days to work from home. Drilling further down, Covid-19 has blown the cover on how vulnerable black women are globally in work and at home.
Domestic Abuse in The Era of Covid-19
When the UK went into lockdown due to the coronavirus, Hubby began working from home. He has helped with and vice versa; he helps with homeschooling, grocery shopping and cooking. We work as a team. As an expat with no UK based extended family, our team of four is my everything. When we became parents we had to work out how best to support each other and it wasn’t an easy road bu here we are. However, I know it’s not like that for everyone. Early on in lockdown I blogged about a story personal to me in which I shared the contacts charities and help lines that support victims of domestic abuse .
Last week, it was reported that the number of visits to the Refuge website, a charity to support domestic abuse, went up by 957% . Now that we are all living in under each other so to speak, the privacy to make a phone all is challenge. The result is that living with an abuser is that more horrific.
Signal For Help
During the Women in Travel Webinar, Ground Zero? Impact of Covid on Women In travel, tourism and hospitality panellist Mariana Aldrigui (Tourism Researcher, University of Sao Paolo) talked about the new programme funded by the Women Funding Network. It’s called “Signal for Help” and will act as a lifeline for those quarantined with their abusers. Persons experiencing abuse in the home can use sign language on a video call without leaving a trace.
I often wonder, if our perception of what is masculine, within the black community, impairs our ability to see abusive behaviour until it’s too late. We have already entered the golden cage from which he has limited our contact with friends or family who may have some influence.
This is not to say the abuse is solely the experience of black women or women for that matter. Let’s not forget, there are men who also suffer at the hand of an abusive partner.
Diversity And Women In The Workplace
Some women have had to leave their jobs in order to take care of their children. Others were the first to be furloughed, because their roles were customer facing Then there were those who were self-employed and their revenue streams dried up because they could no longer provide their product or service under social distancing and national lockdowns. In the another Women in Travel webinar on The ‘other’ pandemic: the global impact of Covid-19 on women. UN Women UK declared ‘Covid-19 is a health risk and a crisis of equality’.
Simon Gallow, Advocate at UN Women UK, was a part of the panel. Simon reported that black women were 4x more at risk of contracting Covid-19; women in general made up 60% made up the informal sector AND 250m experienced domestic violence. As black woman, I can see clearly, that of black and other minority women will hardest hit for falling into all three categories.
Yet still in the Q&A a remark was made that diversity is on the back burner due to Covid-19. Simon quickly made it clear that diversity so be knitted into fabric of every company policy. His remarks were small comfort; I couldn’t help but wonder at the comment/observation. How could diversity be on the back burner? It’s like totally negating the existence of a cross section the world’s population in a time when we are more at risk and need help.
Black Lives Matter
There’s no time like the present for governments, business and community leaders as well as individuals to do their part in writing this wrong. Cities in America burn, protests in France, England, Ireland Syria, Australia and the list goes on Black Lives Matter because an unarmed black man George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota (25th May 2020).
In the midst of a global pandemic people are going out their millions to protest, that’s how critical the imbalance of justice and rights for all is because we cannot forget other lives lost. How about the case of Sandra Bland who allegedly committed suicide in a Texas jail cell, after being arrested by a white police officer in July 2015. She had relocated to Texas to start a new job. One protester said it best, and this is not verbatim, basically she said that the fact people re protesting in the middle of a pandemic just shows how urgent change is needed.
What of the reports of black nurses, doctors, bus drivers and rail workers who lost their lives as a result of being on the front line battling the coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Search hashtag #blacklivesmatter to follow current events.
Balancing Work Life And Home Life
Recently, I spotted a tweet and that me to an interesting story. It was the story of the CEO who left her job to care for her son even though her hubby was at home and not working. He was unable to be the sole carer for their child while she worked. It rang true to the report coming from the Institute of Fiscal Studies in which they reported:
Families respond differently to a partner stopping paid work depending on whether it is the mother or the father who stops.Mothers who have stopped working for pay during lockdown while their partner continues do twice as much childcare and housework as their partner. In the reverse situation, in families where the father has stopped working, the parents share childcare and housework equally, while the mother also does 5 hours of paid work a day.
I know for a fact that is especially profound in black families or families with black mothers. We are seen as being strong and able to do it all. We’re conditioned to accept that rhetoric. Often times, we don’t ask our nearest and dearest for assistance. Certainly ‘role of woman’ still remains the same; wash, cook, clean, care for family; even if we work outside of the home the expectation is the same.
Men Are Now Doing Double the Amount Of Childcare
Generally speaking, dads giving more childcare assistance. Dads are currently doing more childcare than before, it’s just not comparable to the hours that women do. According to the fiscal studies report:
… This increase is especially large for the 15% of fathers in previously dual-earner households who have lost their job while their partner continues to do paid work. This large increase in fathers’ involvement in childcare might have long-lasting impacts on how couples share childcare responsibilities.
Well, I for one certainly hope so. We need to draw our mark in the sand how far we can go. Additionally, we must ask for help and not do it all. Give up the desire for constant perfection and deny your children and/or partner the opportunity to learn new life skills. Easier said than done for some because as I’ve mentioned earlier many women are experiencing domestic abuse during this time so we have to speak for those who can’t and support where we can..
The tourism and hospitality industry worldwide, women in the informal sector work copious amounts to hours trying to save their businesses at the peril of their health and wellness.
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Actions To Empower Women As Suggested By UN Women
Following on from above, wondering what you can do to help. Here are three actions from the UN Women Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women
- Ensure women’s equal representation in all covid-19 response planning and decision making
- Drive transformative change for equality by address the care, economy paid and unpaid
- Target women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of coivd-19
Following on from the suggestions by UN Women they shared an example of good practice by Costa Rica. The Costa Rican ‘… government has reduced all interest rates for credit to cooperatives and for business projects that target priority sectors of the population, including youth, women, older adults, indigenous, afro-descendant, peasant, migrant and disabled people.’
Women should be put at the centre of the polices to improve our quality life. We must be involved in the planning, promoting and practice of these polices. Women of black and other minority groups are particular MUST be included. We should all speak up and report injustices and abuse when we see it. The informal sector must be formalised so that women don’t fall of the grid in times of crisis, such as we have seen during Covid-19.
Women, we need to think about our personal wellness. We can’t do it all and shouldn’t do it all because the impact on our physical and mental health can be detrimental.
Finally and no means least, black lives matter. This year of 2020 feels like we are under attack from all corners, if it’s not Covid-19, it’s police violence and rampant racism overt and covert. Life has to get better for us and well all have a part to play.
Here’s hoping the wave of positive change comes soon.
Feature Image Credit: Christina Morillo via Pexel.com