Members' area: Sign in or join Engender

Covid-19 and women's equality

A nurse with cleaning equipment, a woman in an apron cooking, a women in a lab coat with shopping, a call handler, and a woman ironingWe want to know how Covid-19 is impacting on women's lives in Scotland.

This isn't just a public health issue for women - it comes with an increase in unpaid care, precarity for those in insecure housing, higher risks for those in low-paid and precarious work, damaging societal expectations of motherhood, new ways of carrying out online harassment, and many other ways in which women are being discriminated against.

Your stories of how the pandemic is affecting you - from domestic micro-aggressions to exploitative employers - will be used to inform our policy work and highlight how the virus is having a disproportionate impact on women.

If you are seeking support, please visit our Covid-19 resources page here.

Agency Worker who has had coronavirus
May 26, 2020

I'm in precarious work, which fortunately can be done from home, and have been since before lockdown.

In mid-March, my husband and I started to feel ill with coronavirus symptoms over a weekend and I was told by the agency I work for that I was eligible for SSP from day one only if I evidenced my contact with 111...? So I took a screenshot of my call from my mobile?

At the end of March, I was told by the agency that my post was no longer required as the employer was halting all normal activity, but two days later I was called by the employer directly to ask me to come back and assist with Covid response.

While this was ongoing, I was recovering from covid but had to have antibiotics delivered for a chest infection. My husband, meanwhile, took much longer to recover which we now understand is the case with some, with an almost malarial relapse effect happening every other week for months. This meant that I had to take on most of the cleaning and meal prep and emotional labour of contacting/updating family.

A few more weeks on, we are physically doing better, but we can both feel our mental health sliding. I am coping with my clinical anxiety and depression by trying to leave the house once a day, even if it's just to sit on the grass outside, and eat fruits and vegetables but I don't manage it every day.

Sometimes I hope the lockdown end comes quickly but then I know my work depends on it at the moment and I feel anxious about trying to find another job. I try to stay positive and remind myself that we have been luckier than a lot of people.

Mother 2 under 5, full-time worker and MSc student
May 26, 2020

I began to have concerns about my commute in early March and was fortunate to be able to work from home even before lockdown was announced. Once the schools and nurseries closed, I was at home, working, studying and caring for two very small children alone. I naively thought I would home-school, that lasted an hour. My husband did not get asked to work from home for another 2 weeks, despite my begging him to force his employers hand - they were prioritising based on resources and his role in providing childcare was not high on the list. We now both work from home but he insists his employer is not overly lenient or understanding of his role as a parent, meaning I inevitably deal with the children more throughout the day. I am desperate for one of us to be furloughed, thankful we are financially able to weather that, but neither of us understand our rights and are worried the impact that may have should either position become untenable. He is in the private sector so his role is not as secure as my own. I am very concerned about the changes in my sons behaviour, he is not as emotionally robust and is quick to get upset. I find it painful as a mother for my children to see us both at home, yet we are invariably connected to a device and trying to distract, not engage them. This is not a nice place for anyone and it has went on so long it is now creating anxiety about transitioning out of it.

Furloughed worker, living in Glasgow
May 26, 2020

I work full-time and our boss closed the office before lockdown began, so I was working from home for a month or so before being furloughed. Furloughing though really good (my employer makes up the 20% so I get my normal salary) made me feel expendable especially as all the managers were kept on. I think I'm being unfurloughed soon which is good, but I'll still need to work from home. I'm really missing my family, parents, brothers and really missing nieces and nephews. I also really miss my friends and getting out in the countryside away from the city. I live with my husband and am finding I am doing more housework, he is doing some but not a lot, however furlough has meant that I am doing lots of tidying as I usually don't get the time for that. One way that the virus has really impacted me is the short term distribution of medication - I'm on a few medications for life and these are only issued for two months at a time (generally always and not just COVID-19 related - but there were shortages due to COVID and people panicking) I ended up without one of my main ones for about a month at the start of lockdown as I had been given the wrong brand which I react to badly so had to go without.The health symptoms I suffer without correct medication are fatigue, loss of motivation, brain fog and pain (not great). I couldn't get to speak to my GP as all calls are being triaged by the reception staff, who referred me to the pharmacist, who did manage to get me more meds - but this is really precarious. I'm back to being stable on my meds for now, but I think I'm being unfurloughed next week and what if I have another issue with medication and find it hard to work? Working from home is somehow more challenging and tiring than going into an office. Food seems to be more expensive and virtually all of my salary is going on food, however due to not having to buy my lunch and pay for transport, my budgeting is a bit better and I now usually have a wee bit of money at the end of the month.

Single mother carer worker lecturer student
May 23, 2020

Lockdown began on 16th March. Face to face teaching ended then too. Forced to try and deliver term 3 of a practical course on line to young adults who are obviously sitting thinking, this is not what I signed up for. I have two jobs, working part time and teaching part time. Both are now being done from home.
Then school shut and now juggling primary 7 son school work and two jobs at home. My son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism. I am blessed with a beautiful boy who is smart, funny and a talented artist. He is very sociable and is missing talking with everyone he meets. I worry about his mental health with lockdown and what will 1st year secondary school look like. I am a Masters student in my 3rd year an have a fast approaching deadline of 30th June for submission of work. I am a carer for my mother who is a cancer patient. She is shielding. I help with changing her bed, hovering cleaning floors, bathroom and kitchen weekly. Normally I would shop for her too, but so thankful to her brother that he has been shopping for her since the start of lockdown. I worry for my mother’s mental health during this lockdown. She has battled 5 different types of cancer over the last 20 years. The later three years battling 3 very serious cancers and amazing she has come through and is in remission for two of them. She was only just getting out to the theatre, gigs and restaurants when lockdown happened. Both my older brothers live in different city’s, and kind of leave it to me to help our mother normally, however I think this situation feels like it’s harder to manage everything. I got out of the abusive relationship with my sons father and I have been a single parent for 9 years now. The relationship is still volatile. My sons father has been no practical help through lockdown or before. My son stays with his father at the weekend, this allows me one day where I can breathe, sleep and write. I know that I am lucky to have this one day. I feel guilt and thing that I should do something to help others in the community on this day. What I miss most right now is siting in the theatre or going to a gig where I can just loose myself in the moment. Just for that moment.

Furloughed Bartender, Volunteer Support Worker with Glasgow East Women’s Aid, Survivor
May 20, 2020

Surviving?
TW: rape, anxiety/depression, PTSD

I somewhat unwillingly and reluctantly adopted the term ‘survivor’ for myself after I was raped by my friend’s ex boyfriend and his friend whilst passed out in their flat.

At the time, I didn’t understand it; I thought it was somehow my fault. My mind told me that I had drank too much, I had been too trusting, I should’ve fought them off. I was left in a bubble of self-hate, confusion and guilt which left me unable to leave my cold student flat in the West End of Glasgow.

But the truth with my assault, and with every assault imposed on someone by another human being, is that I wasn’t to blame. My choice in the matter was taken from me, the men made an active decision to take advantage of an inebriated young woman.

I survived an ordeal that no human being should go through. I became a survivor.

Two years have passed, and the initial shock of the experience sent me into what I can only describe as a ‘blurred reality’. My mood was low, I questioned friendships, I engaged in reckless behaviour (sex, drinking, recreational drugs) - all of which put pressure on my working life.

In November last year, I was finally able to engage in an intimate relationship. Unfortunately, this intimacy and trust required did trigger many memories which led to my diagnosis of PTSD and depression. I had just started on medication a month before ‘Lockdown’, and work remained the best distraction and coping mechanisms to work through my mental health issues.

My manager at work has been unbelievably understanding throughout my recovery. When I needed time off, it was granted. When I needed a moment to stop the many panic attacks in their tracks, they gave me time. After a while, work became the only positive routine in my life. It was set hours, set people and set tasks - I could do it without thinking.

When the closure of bars and restaurants was announced, I was in the pub for my (unknown to me then) last shift. A sudden panic swept over me as I heard the ‘furlough’ terms, the limited guidance and the shock and sadness from colleagues and customers. My routine was gone! Every coping strategy I had taken so long to develop was swept from under my feet.

I am not ‘surviving’ on furlough. Days are rolling into one, I’m finding it hard to distract myself from the ‘bad’ thoughts brought up by staring at the same few walls. I’m losing the motivation to engage in conversations with friends, family and even just getting up in the morning. The ‘blurred reality’ I had experienced two years ago is back again. It is taking a toll on my relationship, especially when I can’t control outbursts of panic or anger.

In a world where women already feel shut in, isolated, forgotten about, a reality of ‘furlough’ and lockdown is hard to grasp. You realise how much you depend on things such as jobs or social interactions to distract from your worst thoughts. I am glad that there are services to help (such as Rape Crisis) during this time.

However, despite the Home Secretary’s public message urging women to seek help out of an abusive situation, funding for women’s services is constantly at risk. My own WA Service are constantly in fear of redundancy, and of the women whose lives will be at risk if the services close. Will the government commit to funding and support for women’s services due to the overwhelmed numbers? We can only hope.

Anonymous woman
May 18, 2020

I am staying in a hostel after leaving an abusive relationship.

Because of Covid-19, all of my court proceedings about getting a divorce, my case against him, and my immigration status have been stopped and my solicitor is on furlough.

I am getting support on the phone from Rape Crisis Scotland and Shakti Women's Aid and they are wonderful, but it is so difficult. Most days I just don't leave my room.

Meanwhile, my ex is using his free time to contact all of my friends and family and spread vicious rumours about me as well as sharing intimate details.

Working Mum of 2 year old.
May 18, 2020

I am a full time charity worker, whose thankful to have a job where I can still work from home and understanding colleagues. My partner, and daughter's father, is out of work, so he's taking on the brunt of childcare whilst I carry out work from home.

It's been a strain - our relationship is being tested to new limits with being around each other 24/7. Our daughter, is relatively happy despite toddler outbursts on a half hourly basis. Of course it's hard going keeping a 2 year old entertained. Sometimes we just have to give her the tablet and let her play with games. We can't be 24/7 educators, entertainers and playmates whist being parents. She's desperately missing her friends at nursery, so I am concerned about her socialisation and education which she gets at nursery.

To be honest, I've felt a gnawing sense of guilt at times, trying to work at home, whilst knowing my partner and daughter are there trying to keep occupied/avoid confrontations when things get fraught. I've become the sole earner of the household overnight. Of course we take our breaks and walks when we can but the lines between work and home have become blurred. I long to get out the door in the morning to work with fellow colleagues and be around adults again but I'm no different to any other working Mum trying to keep motivated, balance plates and keep going....just longing for a light at the end of the tunnel.

Full time wfm mum
May 11, 2020

I have 1 child under 10 who I look after myself every day as her dad is an essential worker. I help him with school work, try to keep her occupied, cook, clean, do laundry, ironing, dinners, bathtime, make all the meals, bake sometimes, play with him and try to engage in outdoor learning, look after my older parent by doing her shopping and collecting meds, organising her bills, doing my own online shopping and bills, phone relatives to stay in touch as much as possible and take the little one out daily for an hour or so of fresh air and exercise.
I also work ft from home. But I don't manage to do it much during the day, so once the child is in bed and I've tidied up, I start at my pc around 8.30pm... if I'm lucky I get time for a bath on occasion, bedtime often after midnight, then back up at 5am or 6 to have a quick shower and get my husband organised for the day.. as he actually goes to work, hes tired and stressed which stresses me out too, so I end up doing pretty much everything.
I'm missing my friends and family and having an only child is tough as she misses her friends and family too.
I feel guilty for wanting five minutes alone, but nobody seems to get that I need space. I keep seeing people online asking for reading or box set suggestions to pass the time.. if only!!!

School teacher
May 11, 2020

During school closures, I have been redeployed to provide childcare once a week to the children of keyworkers in my local authority area.

I received a letter from the Head of Education at the local authority to inform us that we would be provided with full PPE by last week. However, when I arrived for my latest shift, there was no PPE for any member of staff. In addition to this, there was no soap in the building, meaning that staff and children were unable to properly wash their hands. It is difficult to get young children to adhere to social distancing, and not having soap heightened our exposure to coronavirus.

The lack of PPE puts us at risk, particularly as we are working with the children of frontline workers. The lack of soap in a school environment is outrageous at any point, never mind during a pandemic, which implies our risk is not being taken seriously.

fed up
May 7, 2020

Couldn't agree more. Identity stripped. Sick of it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/03/i-feel-like-a-1950s-housewife-how-lockdown-has-exposed-the-gender-divide?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WhatsApp

Working mother of 2
May 4, 2020

I’ve just been furloughed (full pay, I acknowledge it could be a lot worse). Decisions had to be made very quickly about what staff were to be furloughed and who was to be kept on. We have roughly 50:50 gender split in our department but an all male management team. The only staff deemed business critical and kept on were men. It’s really shone a light on how roles have been assigned and how unconscious bias has had an effect.
Although personal circumstances were not to be taken into account, it’s resulted in a good few women being burdened with more childcare and keeping the housework going

Mother of 2 (4&7), full time student, part time research assistant, part time student support worker, volunteer Rape crisis worker, volunteer community councillor
April 29, 2020

My partner works in secondary services in the NHS in psychology and so doesn’t have much of a role during lockdown however the NHS also insists that as I am not a key worker I am responsible for the full time care (and schooling) of our children. So many plates to spin that I’m exhausted and a little broken.

Mum of two, working from hone.
April 24, 2020

I’m trying to balance working from home and caring for a pre schooler and eight year old and being unsuccessful at both.

I’m feeling resentful towards my partner who is also working from home but does 12 hour days in a home office only surfacing for food and comfort breaks.

He works extremely hard but all of the homeschooling and childcare responsibilities are down to me.

I am about to be redeployed and have asked to work weekends and a couple of days during the week to make things easier.

Survivor with children
April 23, 2020

I left a disastrous relationship, now recognised as coercive control, seven years ago. The impact of the relationship on my own mental health and our two children was compounded by manipulation and control that is still playing out these years later. In lockdown, both our children, now young adults, are staying with me. We recently had to go and pick up a delivery from their father's house, some 30 miles away. He got in touch after the pick up, demanding I explain to him why I was breaking social distancing rules and threatening to 'take matters further' if I did not respond. When I did not, why would I? He emailed my work demanding they take action. Last time he contacted my work, shortly after leaving, I was interviewed by police and social work due to allegations of child abuse. His enduring, controlling vengeance exhausts and scares me.

Working from home stress with a toddler
April 23, 2020

My office has staff working at home for now. I have a toddler who usually attends day care while I work at the office.
I'm struggling to balance work and childcare. With a small child present trying to focus on work is problematic. Trying to do my paid work and my main (and my favourite) job as a mother does not combine well at all. My partner is still working, out with the home and I can't help but feel envy that I want to go to work as normal. I can feel the impact this is having on my mental health and the overall health of my small family. When my partner returns from work I try to focus on additional work tasks that I have not completed for that day and can feel the expectation from my employer, but the feeling of constant working from morning to night has me feeling that I am not being the best mother or meeting my work expectations. I have read information online on how to work from home with a toddler, but it is so unrealistic. How are mother's coping with still doing their job and having a small child at home and doing both combined, do they expect to come out with their sanity intact, I do not 😢

Ali
April 23, 2020

I am a Casual Worker and feel cast aside and unwanted since lockdown. What are my rights on loss of work?

Engender response:
Citizens Advice Scotland info on employment rights and accessing benefits: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you-s/
STUC guide for non-unionized workers: https://www.betterthanzero.scot/blogs/blog/13/redir/
PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) helpline can be called on 0800 917 8000

Mum of 2
April 22, 2020

I'm lucky that my partner is doing the bulk of childcare, so I'm managing to balance work with school closure. But I still have to shut the door and hear my 3 year old crying on the other side because he doesn't understand that I'm home but can't play.

I speak to friends who are trying to work from home while their 5 and 2 year old are there wanting attention. The guilt that the mum is feeling, and the impact on the kids of the parents being physically present but not actually is so hard. The stress of doing both at the same time is going to have a big impact on mental health. No amount of mindfulness will help.
In Facebook groups I see mums asking for advice and they are working until midnight after putting kids to bed so that they can fit in their hours etc. I'm really really worried about burnout for so many women. (Because the majority of cases will be women. They have more flexible employers. They with part time so are expected to do it all. They are more involved with school work etc)

Social distancer
April 22, 2020

Why why why is it always women having to move out of the way in social distancing?

Why do male joggers think it's ok to come up directly behind you panting in your ear and then making the tiniest adjustment to their route to avoid you?

Upside down
April 22, 2020

I am on furlough from my work so should be throwing myself into my uni course I started. Two weeks before shutdown my partner and I were due to separate. He is still here, things have been challenging but we are like weird housemates so not too much anger. He seems to not follow any rules on non essential travel or work putting me at risk.
I have tried to get emergency housing but there is a shortage where we live.

working from home
April 22, 2020

Quite a minor thing, but it astonished me - my partner went to the shops, with a shopping list of essentials, (written by me). He came back with just 4 items (mainly snacks) saying that he had decided to go to a different shop. When I said 'so that's your shopping for the week then', he had no idea that the guidelines said you should only go shopping once a week.

I don't understand how he could watch the news every night and not picked up on that!

Mother of two young children
April 22, 2020

My partner and I have busy jobs and two young primary-age children. My employer hasn't mentioned furlough as an option for me and I am struggling to cope with two children who don't understand what is going on and my workload. My employer is offering flexibility, but there just aren't enough hours in the day for both me and my partner to do all the work we have to do and make sure that our wee people are taken care of. I'm worried about my mental health, but mostly about my children. My partner earns a lot more than me and I'm seriously considering resigning.

Charity manager
April 22, 2020

I am a senior manager in a charity and the director of the organisation has flatly refused to consider furloughing staff. I'm really aware that there are women working for the organisation who are trying to care for toddlers while doing a day's work. I feel demoralised that we're failing my colleagues in such an obvious way.

Click here to
join Engender

Mailing list

To join our email list, simply enter your email address below.

Latest tweets

Follow @EngenderScot

Loading