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.

Mother of 2
March 24, 2021

I was a keyworker when the pandemic hit and with 2 school age girls at home, I was filled with fear and dread about how I could manage my work and my family. My husband's job is also so busy that I knew he couldn't take the brunt of things at home. I lost 4 of my clients within 2 months at the start and there were so many others I was worried about. I was part of a busy assessment team and the decisions we were being asked to make scared me. My job role also entailed speaking about a lot of difficult situation in relation to domestic abuse, mental health, severe sickness and illness and the things I spoke about in my day job just couldn't be spoke about at home with 2 young impressionable girls in the house at the same time. I had absolutely nothing left to give them and my bosses response was that he wanted me in the office more and out doing visits more, even though we had no PPE and there was no where for my girls to go.

As my husband is in a different sector to me, I saw that he was getting good support from his employers. He got a desk, a computer and told to work flexibly around his family and that this was absolutely ok. I on the other hand was carrying a heavy caseload of responsibility, and could see that there was little end in sight in terms of my work. I loved my job in many ways and was well respected but I absolutely felt I had to make a choice between between my family, and my job.

We are in a fortunate position so I applied for something with a salary basis of over £10,000 less a year. I got the job and it is a breath of fresh air. I feel more protected but I do really miss the responsibility and I guess some of the respect that my old job gave me. However, I can do my job with the girls in the room and feel that it is safe and ok for them to listen. I can give them more attention when they need it and my boss knows my circumstances and knows that I'm keen and that I care. I get thanked for work I do, and I don't feel terrified that I'm going to make a decision which is really life or death for someone else and that is really positive, and I also can give my girls some of my emotional energy, which I never could before.

It is awful though that women have to chose, that we work so hard for something (in my case a senior position and a good reputation) and then we have to lose it all again when push comes to shove and when the children need more for us. I wish it didn't have to be this way and that employers could be flexible and understanding of the needs of their staff. I really hope that women in the work place can stand up for each other and support one another to have a good balance and in recognition of the personal needs of staff. This is so important in order to get the best out of staff, and get staff that are loyal and committed.

Mother of 3
January 17, 2021

Had to give up my job (most likely career) as a midwife as the final straw was no childcare if no school, and if I was working I'd then have to work alternate days to my partner, reducing his ability to work when he earns more money for the household. His business is less than a year old so he didn't qualify for any financial assistance, or furlough at any point, however his customer base has definitely been affected by the pandemic. When the first lockdown was announced and I suddenly had no childcare for work, I couldn't go to work for several weeks and later had annual leave entitlement and money deducted from my pay to cover the unavoidable time off I had had to take. For several months during the spring/summer lockdown I then worked alternate days to my partner and our household income was greatly reduced, with no financial assistance to make up the shortfall. We were also renting and had no support from our landlord and later had to move house.

Alongside all this, my abusive ex partner (and biological father of my children) has taken me to court as the children have refused to visit him. I had made a police report and social work report for serious issues, but due to the pandemic he was not properly interviewed and a serious child related incident and years of historic abuse were lessened to "just a joke" by him over the phone and the cases were closed without further investigation. Solicitor and court matters are all via telephone and a child hearing will be carried out by conference call - leaving me feeling alone, unsupported and without all information being able to be given - body language etc. I feel my ex can hide behind the telephone and I'm worried, because this matter is so incredibly important and will have a huge impact on mine and my children's futures.

Myself and my children are now left completely reliant on my new partner for money. Since giving up my NHS job, I have applied for universal credit however it has been several weeks and I have yet to hear anything.

Mum Guilt
January 17, 2021

During the first lockdown my son was only 6 months old. I had just started a new job and had organised childcare between family and a nursery then bang lockdown happened. I was left with no choice but to work at home full time while caring for my son. When I look back on that time I feel guilty as I know he did not get the care and attention he should have as I juggled the work that needed done every day for my employer with his naps, bottles, weaning, changing etc. Little time was left for play or special one to one time. Now we are here in another lockdown and this time I’ve been told I’ve to be in work as a keyworker and was sent a link to sort childcare for my son. No verbal discussion or any sort of understanding of that fact he had literally just settled into nursery after finally starting in August or the impact that sending him to a place with carers he did not know with no proper transition might have. Naturally parents want to do what is best for their children but we are being forced to do what we are told even if it’s not in their best interests and arguably causing them harm. You then have the added pressure of seeing people lose their jobs and feel you need to be grateful you still have a job no matter the impact on your child. It’s an awful situation to be in and whatever you do you feel guilty. My main fear is the schools and nurseries not opening in February. Parents are already at breaking point trying to work to provide for their family while actually caring for their children. Some have the added pressure on top of home schooling. It’s shameful that parents have been left in this position but even more so that The Government and many Employers clearly do not care about the impact of this on children.

September 24, 2020

From the weeks leading up to lockdown I was aware of the news stories and the seriousness of what lay ahead. My boss who immediately isolated at home didn't have the same attitude at all. My attempts to lead my team and keep them safe were laughed at and squashed. Despite insisting we were squashed together in a room, unable to distance, my boss dismissed it all like it was an exaggeration and had me in tears on a number of phonecalls. I was treated differently to my male colleagues 100%.

September 23, 2020

How it feels as ex shielded teacher?
I really missed the buzz of teaching when I taught on line during lockdown 1.0. I was shielding and it was hard. I was worried first about the impact on my pupils and their learning and mental health. Once I have taught you then you are always my kid. I did hate the sterile lack of interaction that online lessons gave me.
Now back in the classroom since mid August, I have to say I’m happy and very scared and anxious. It is not safe. The kids are packed in like sardines. No masks in classrooms and no sd happening indoors or outdoors makes it a Covid nightmare waiting to happen.
I wear a n95 mask all my time in school only taking it off when alone and to quickly eat my lunch. Mentally I like seeing pupils again but I suffer from the anxiety as I am constantly backing away from them.

My best friends school already had a bad out break with in school transmission between staff and pupils. Pressure to keep this quiet was brought into play. Teachers and staff are threatened with GTCS code of conduct or disciplinary action if they do speak out. Like most people they have bills and mortgages to pay. It’s hideous that they are ask to hush up cases. However human nature shows us that few stand up against the injustices when their livelihoods are threaten. How do you think the nazi’s got away with it?
If schools are to continue to be open we need blended learning. It’s the only safe option for all. We need testing to be a priority for teachers, TA and pupils. We need to wear masks indoors anywhere and sd our pupils and sort out ventilation.
Ex shielded staff and pupils need to be protected by really minimising our contacts. So we need to restart shielding. We are not asking for the food boxes to restart just the ability to do our job at home. If shielding isn’t unpaused we are in crowded indoor environments which we have letters saying we need to avoid.

The RA are not protecting us. We have hygiene theatre of hand sanitiser and two meters from the pupils if possible. When we have poor ventilation and lesson times of 80mins we really are sitting ducks. We have masks we can wear which protect no one if all are not wearing. I purchased my own n95 masks as I can take the risk of a simple mask.
If I get Covid, it will possibly reactivate a cytokine storm which I’ve already suffer from in 2013. I can’t risk the damage that did being repeated. I couldn’t walk for 6months and being awake for more than 2hrs a day. That is a live I have struggled to avoid and having rebuilt my health through long and hard work I am unwilling to let Covid or rubbish politicians put me back there.
My school recently lost a member of staff not from Covid. This really rocked us as a community. Imagine now if we start losing pupils and staff how much impact that will have on the mental health of us all. With a 1% death rate if our school lost 1% of staff and pupils that is 19 lives lost. That’s worse case scenario and unlikely to happen but if say 10% of our school population got infected that’s still 2 life’s lost. This will devastate the community.

There is a simple and easy solution blended learning. It is not ideal but hey neither is a pandemic. There isn’t anything fun or convenient about pandemics and work and school.
Unfortunately, I feel my plea will again be me screaming into the void. I want my pupils and colleagues alive. The only way to ensure this is face (mask on unless eating) and space (sd for all) and well okay we can keep the hand sanitiser if we must. I love my kids (even when I don’t like their behaviour) but I can sacrifice the buzz of being back in the classroom if I know we are safe. Just wanting it to be safe but ignoring the fact that in school transmission are occurring isn’t an answer for anyone. Teachers are already having shortages in STEM subjects can you really afford to kill us off or make us disabled. We love our kids and our jobs so much so we to be around next year to teach again....but we don’t we want to die on a hill due to political reticence to admit a mistake.

Mother of 1
June 18, 2020

Hello Mums,

I'm a working women who is working in renowned IT firm. Since my daughter was just 4 months and I'm working till now as she is now 7 year. Over the years I thought things will become better but it acts like a slow poison and is rupturing my relations with my kid and husband. I have faced many challenges raising her. Though my in-laws are there to take care of her, we don't have a healthy relationship.

My daughter's main challenges are:
1. Food and eating problems
2. Watching excessive mobile and TV
3. Not doing homework and doesn't want to study and write home work and during Covid 19 - she has totally lost interest in studies.
4 .Don't listen to parents or grand parents.

I'm losing love and respect from my husband's side and from in-laws side due to work schedules and styles.Yes definitely I'm helping my family through my earnings but I'm losing happiness, love, care, attention and rupturing relationship with my kid.

What is the use of working then? My parents who are very hard work and belongs to middle class family don't let me lose job.

Can anyone suggest me what is the right thing to do at this point.

Shall I leave my job during covid 19 period? As many who want jobs are not having them. And I have job but I'm not happy .


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

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.

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.

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