IWD 2021 Monday 8 March created wide interest across the world. In the UK, it was hard to avoid mainstream and social media coverage. The organisers would have been pleased; with good reason.
At Citizens Advice Reigate & Banstead we saw IWD as part of our 2021 focus on increasing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. We looked at Inequalities and Injustice that pre-existed Covid but have grown because of it. Problems with childcare, lost jobs or hours, domestic abuse. We too were pleased with the response.
BUT new research from Kings College casts doubt on the hopes of many that pandemic might bring a significant shift in attitudes.
Among their key findings the authors of Unequal Britain* highlight: “Gender equality comes low on the country’s list of priorities“. Just 17 per cent expect disparities between men and women to grow. This is far fewer than those who expect any other inequality to get worse. But as far as we can judge the 83% majority who think there will be no rise in inequality are mistaken. There is strong evidence that the crisis is affecting women and setting back progress in many different situations.
Consider just one issue and one source of evidence among many. Research by The Fawcett Society in February shows “nearly twice as many mothers (15%) reported having to take time off work with no pay due to school closures or a self-isolating/sick child compared to 8% of fathers”. And even before the last school closures mothers reported being responsible for higher amounts of unpaid work for:
The numbers show why raising awareness through projects such as International Women’s Day remains so important and necessary.
* Unequal Britain: Attitudes to Inequalities Post-Covid Kings College Policy Institute, February 2021