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Women are being hit hardest by the economic fallout

Women are being hit the brunt of the economic fallout sparked by the coronavirus crisis, a leading think tank has warned.

A poll carried out by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), found women who are currently in work are substantially more anxious about their economic prospects in the wake of the pandemic than men.

While some 46 percent of female workers say money concerns prompted by the economic chaos has had a direct impact on their mental health, only 37 percent of men said the same.

Women, who are radically overrepresented in low-paid precarious sectors such as care and retail, were also more fearful they would become homeless — with 19 percent of women and 13 percent of men anxious about this.

While some 55 percent of women were concerned they were at risk of contracting coronavirus at their work, only 45 percent of men said the same.

The disparity may be tied to the fact women are dramatically overpopulated in the care sector — with recent NHS figures showing more than 80 percent of adult social services jobs in 2019 were carried out by female workers, and government figures showing women make up the majority of informal carers in the UK.

Women were also found to be more likely to be faced with economic insecurity more generally — with 37 percent distressed with the number of women are being hit they are in but only 29 percent of men citing the same worry.

While 37 per cent of women would find it difficult to manage to pay an unexpected bill of £100, only 25 per cent of men said the same.

Sarah Darrall, a researcher at the RSA, said: “These figures demonstrate just how tough life is for the UK’s female precariat. The pandemic has added new threats to livelihoods. Job losses pose a threat to women, and combined with the burden of caring duties, which are still disproportionately carried out by women, they will be feeling the pinch the Women are being hit hardest.

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“The government needs to consider how its new economic measures will deal with this unequal division of labor, and make sure that women are properly supported, not least through access to proper mental health services at home. A basic income could alleviate some of the issues created by this period of economic uncertainty.”

The RSA, which is demanding a temporary basic income of £100 a week with an initial £1,500 direct cash grant is rolled out, also found the economic chaos unleashed by the pandemic is hitting the “precariat”, both men and women in insecure employment, the hardest.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of Fawcett Society, said: “This research confirms our fears that unless we focus on women and girls during this crisis, we will turn the clock back on gender equality.

“Women are being hit bearing the brunt of the social and economic consequences. The government must recognize and respond to this.”

Earlier in the month, a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found women work an average of two months for free each year due to the UK’s gender pay gap, which is 17.3 percent.

A recent study by Fawcett Society found men dominate every sector of public life and equality for women remains “generations away” because progress on gender equality is “dismally slow”.

The leading women’s rights charity warned the under-representation of women in politics, the law, trade unions, the civil service, charities, professional institutions, and sports bodies are “consistent and persistent”, while gender equality is “alarmingly” worse for women of color who are totally absent from senior positions in many sectors.

Experts recently told The Independent women could be disproportionately exposed to coronavirus because they are substantially overrepresented in the care sector.

Frontline service providers said care and nursing homes could be a “mecca for the virus” due to many of its inhabitants not being in good health, and already being at greater risk of contracting the potentially deadly disease.

Campaigners have also warned hundreds of thousands of single mothers are at risk of not being able to afford to feed their children due to emergency measures brought in to cope with the coronavirus outbreak that includes the closure of schools.

Around 70 percent of the two million single parents living in the UK are currently in work, but three out of 10 single parents working are living in poverty. Some 90 percent of single parents are women.

Single mothers are overrepresented in precarious, low paid jobs with zerohour contracts which cannot be carried out from home.


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