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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.

Cook and cleaner by default
September 23, 2020

Being a woman sharing a flat with two men (we're all in our late 20s) during lockdown is hard. All the typical discrepancies in taking responsibility for household chores are magnified exponentially week after week. Somehow I always ended up doing more of the cleaning, cooking and food shopping than my cohabitants. It was also me who would regularly disinfect the door handles, light switches, surfaces, and ensured that there was enough hand gel and disinfectant wipes and masks for everyone. I didn't enjoy acting like their mum, but my alternative would have been to accept dirty dishes, a dirty toilet, mostly fast food, and a greater transmission risk. I would sometimes ask them to help, then they would help for a day or so and then things would get back into their old rhythm. I can't wait for the day that men realise the amount of unpaid labour they put on women by default and start taking some responsibility.

Full time working single Mum of 2 in Edinburgh
September 23, 2020

My life is always one big juggle between work and caring for my children, I am also studying towards a Masters but when lockdown came and the kids were home schooling on top of that I was literally working around the clock. My kids are young and my eldest is autistic so they both need a lot of care and attention and support for their learning and my work didn't stop. I work in a University so I had a full marking workload and tight deadlines.

We got into a routine, my eldest daughter has disordered sleep and so wakes around 5am, we would go for our walk early and then get back and start their home schooling, I usually had a couple of online classes or meetings so the kids would go and play for a while. Most of my colleagues were understanding when they were noisy or interrupted but some were not and made undermining comments. It was full on all day trying to get the kids through their work, making sure they were fed, washed and given sufficient attention.

When they got to bed I would hit the laptop and begin marking and my own research work often from 7.30/8pm- 11pm/midnight at this point I would force myself to bed as I knew I would only have a few hours before it all began again. I felt under enormous pressure to get my work done and guilty for leaving it incomplete at the end of the day.

I found it very difficult to fit in self care, even basics like showering (I know gross!). One of the biggest challenges as well was that I am normally very active and run 5k everyday to get to work and 10k at the weekend. Under lockdown restrictions I could not leave my children at all and my activity dropped to almost nil. I have gained weight and lost fitness.

It was very difficult for my autistic daughter who often took it out on the wee one who became very clingy to me and a bit withdrawn.
I was awaiting a contract extension which came in at the very last minute and this was so stressful as without a job we would be in dire straits. I also have had to take an interruption from my studies as it all became too much.

I absolutely cracked at one point and called social work telling them I could not cope, they said I was doing fine. I started crying uncontrollably on the phone, not something that I ever want my kids to see. They said they would conduct an assessment of our circumstances but this can't be done under covid restrictions. I have heard nothing in months.

Shopping was also a challenge, my daughter does not cope well with shops at the best of times and I really struggled to get delivery slots. We were not considered a priority despite me being a single parent and my daughters' disability.

FtmL
September 23, 2020

I'm currently pregnant with my first baby - found out in May as lockdown was being eased. Prior to that, lockdown was okay. My husband and I could and were already working from home, we'd not long bought our house that had a garden so things were okay.

Being pregnant and re-entering lockdown situations is awful. I relapsed into my eating disorder and lost a stone prior to the pregnancy but the relapse is still active and I've gained very little weight. I have some cpn support from the west of Scotland perinatal mental health service but they can't offer me as much because of face to face restrictions. Husband has been able to attend scans but not emergency appointments or routine ones. What will happen at birth is a mystery and women are being stripped of choice - little to no option for home or water births, births that are highly medical and full of interventions, rushed to when giving birth then rushed out the door. I have very little trust my birth will be a positive experience and believe I will become very unwell afterwards due to trauma.

I've also faced redundancy from an employer who handed the lockdown very badly - arrogance lead to no furlough of staff while also saying oh we won't do redundancies either. It ended up being a paper exercise to get rid of certain other staff members but it was still stressful to be put in a redundancy pool.

All in, I'm an anxious mess. My ED is back, my BPD symptoms are heightened despite two years of no symptoms at all and I feel a distinct pressure to comply as a good girl and not push for the birth experience i want to protect my own body and mind.

part time worker, full time parent
June 25, 2020

My partner and I both work for the same organisation. His job is much more 'high powered' than mine, and he works more hours. During Covid-19 we have generally both been able to work flexible to jointly look after our 3 year old. But because my job doesn't involve so many important phone calls and meetings, if there is childcare to be done and we are both trying to work, it is always me who has to sort it out.

It is so frustrating - I know it makes sense a lot of the time, he has a higher wage and more hours, but my work is still important, and I still have to get it done! We are in such a fortunate position - still working and with flexible employers, and yet the gendered divide in childcare is hitting home so hard during the crisis. I don't think it's a coincidence that my work in admin and in supporting clients is dismissed as less important than talking to higher profile people, and that homeschooling and care of our young child is dismissed as merely playtime.

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 .

Thanks

Fiona - working mum
June 9, 2020

Covid-19...social media goes mad with furloughed mums and dads building play houses and bars in their gardens, enjoying bbqs and cocktails in the sun while entertaining their kids with endless crafts and homemade McDonalds. Meanwhile, my husband is at sea, on a different ship almost daily, making sure that essential trade reaches the U.K from sea - it's essential work with endless nightshifts. The U.K couldn't manage without it, but it could lead to us all contracting the virus and there's nobody out there 'clapping for sailors'.

So, I'm at home' holding the fort' working almost full time and home schooling, home caring and managing housework. It's difficult, it's tiring, its emotional. I ask to be furloughed on the grounds of no childcare, but my job is essential. I work for a national fostering organisation and we're busier than ever. I love my job, I love my family... but I'm tired of spinning so many plates.

Lock down is easing, but we're new to this town. With no friends, family or support I decide to send my 5 year old back to school. It's better for him after 11 weeks at home with both parents working full time, but I am shamed for making a decision that could spread the virus.

There's no easy answer, as a woman I feel that I have suffered the inequality of coronavirus.

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.

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!!!

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

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.

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