The Feminist Recovery – As we finally begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder what the “new normal” will look like for women. Women worldwide have been impacted economically in greater numbers than men.
The hardest hit industries have been heavily staffed by women. Women have had to help more with children learning from home. Also, women on average already earn less than men. Where does that leave us as the world rights itself and begins to reemerge post pandemic?
“Millions of women around the world have felt similarly excluded from the economy over the past year. COVID-19 restrictions have simultaneously increased the burden of unpaid labor on women—with school closures forcing millions to leave jobs to take care of children—and decimated the hospitality, retail and care-work industries that are often the main employers for women.”
“The World Economic Forum concluded in a March report that the pandemic had added 36 years to the estimated time it will take to close the global gender gap, meaning it will now take an average of 135.6 years to reach parity between women and men on economic opportunity, political power, education and health.” https://time.com/5954727/economic-recovery-women-covid-19/
Many governments are facing the reality of the situation. Finally they’re beginning to recognize that life is different economically for most women. Even more so for women of color and single moms. Not to mention those women subjected to intimate partner violence (IPV).
How do we get heard?
Has the travesty of the pandemic finally shed some light onto the realities faced daily by women worldwide? If so, will it be enough to challenge the governments to find ways to address the inequities?
“Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council established by President Joe Biden on March 8, says the lessons of the pandemic are remaking American norms around care work and women’s labor. “It’s not so much an opportunity, it’s a demand: this moment demands a big structural change.”’https://time.com/5954727/economic-recovery-women-covid-19
There is hope. Not only is the American government recognizing the opportunity the current situation demands, but other countries are seeing shifts, too.
It’s an uphill battle. But perhaps something positive will come out of all the tragedy we have experienced over the last year.
As more women move into leadership roles in government worldwide, we can hope that they won’t forget their struggling sisters. We can believe that more men will recognize the unfair burden that women bear. Women earn significantly less than men. And yet women hold the majority of the responsibility for care giving (for children and the elderly).
Without women in the workforce, the impact on the economy can be devastating. If women have to stay home to care for dependents, then they aren’t able to work. They can’t contribute to their families’ economic well-being. Nor are they able to help the global economy recover.
We simply can’t continue to expect women to “do it all”.
Governments need to recognize that paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, eldercare, transportation, and access to services (internet especially) are critical. Direct stimulus payments provide a much-needed boost but are a short-term solution. We need policy changes that shift our approach to these issues.
“By targeting women, you are ensuring they have financial autonomy and correcting an imbalance of power in relationships,” Lagunas says. “When women can make decisions about money, usually they invest it in their kids in education, in repairing the house, in improving their small businesses.” https://time.com/5954727/economic-recovery-women-covid-19/
It is time for a revolution. It is time to change the world.
Everyone benefits if we level the playing field and support women more in their efforts to contribute. Not only to their families, but also to the economy at large. As the hardest hit industries begin to rebound, women will likely have more job opportunities. However, going back to work may cause other hardships. Creating more government-backed support programs could alleviate the problems.
We need options and opportunities for all women. Women are a huge part of the population. They are willing and able to contribute to the recovery if given the needed support. I hope we see governments worldwide enacting changes. Earning a living while supporting their families should be achievable for all women who are eager to work, contribute financially to their own well-being and to the economy at large.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse