Britain risks “sleepwalking” into another economic problem by “overlooking women in the recovery plan”, Dame Helena Morrissey warns today as she joins over 50 business leaders, MPs and senior figures in fashion and sport in calling on the Government to take concrete action to halt the long-term effect of the coronavirus pandemic on women.
In a letter to the editor of the Telegraph, which you can read in full below, some of the biggest names in finance, tech, fashion and politics, including Dame Helena as well as Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, Jane Shepherdson, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Caroline Nokes MP, urge the Government commit to considering the impact of policy making on women’s lives.
The letter, which is also signed by Denise Lewis, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Judy Murray and Gaby Logan, asks the Government to commit to ensuring women are always part of the policy making process, as studies show the coronavirus lockdown is turning back the clock on women’s lives.
Writing in the Telegraph today, Dame Helena urges the Government to “redouble” their efforts on gender equality, “not forget about them”.
She said: “For many women, this particular experience of working from home, without childcare, without schools, without the support network often provided by grandparents and friends, hasn’t been a step forward.
“We need to remember that if our economy is going to fire on all cylinders again, women must be engaged and fulfilling their potential.”
Dame Helena writes: “If the pandemic and its aftermath turn back the clock on progress for women in the workplace, that’s bad news for everyone. Right now, there’s a danger of collectively sleepwalking into yet another economic problem by overlooking women in the recovery plan.”
A report this week found that women’s careers are regressing, taking Britain back to a 1950s style of living.
Academics at the University of Sussex said the impact of school closures had exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities, with 70 per cent of women saying they were now completely or mostly responsible for homeschooling.
Further analysis revealed that women living with a male partner were dominant in seven out of eight categories of domestic chores, while the proportion of mothers responsible for 90 to 100 percent of childcare was reported to have risen from 27 to 45 percent during lockdown.
The letter raises concerns that the long-term impact of the Government’s response to the pandemic on women’s lives is being overlooked.
According to the Resolution Foundation, women are more likely than men to be working in sectors that have had to shut down during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed one in four women who have been pregnant or on maternity leave during the pandemic had experienced unfair treatment at work, having been singled out for redundancy or furlough.