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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.

'lazy artist'
October 8, 2020

I work in the creative industries. Of course, that means I have several other jobs on the go at the same time (show me anyone working in the arts who doesn't!). My zero hours bar work has just disappeared due to the new central belt restrictions - but the guys have been kept on. My options for work are limited due to childcare - first home schooling, now knowing that at any moment there could be a breakout in the school and they'll be sent home to self-isolate.

Due to the nature of my work, I wasn't eligible for furlough, or the self-employed support scheme, and I'm still waiting on Universal Credit.

My living expenses have gone up - no heated shared studio to work in, constant demand for snacks (from me and the kid!) - and I'm facing the prospect of Christmas coming with me broke, no chance of work, and family far away.

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.

Self-employed writer and editor
July 26, 2020

I lost my main client, in the travel industry, at the start of lockdown. Luckily I managed to replace them fairly quickly with a new client in another industry, but am working much harder and longer hours as a result.

My other half has been furloughed since lockdown began and has done nothing with his time. He sleeps all day until 4pm most days and I'm left to do all the cleaning, dishes, laundry and everything else- which I feel is really unfair since he isn't working. It's the same on the weekends when I should be relaxing - instead I'm running around doing everything. It's making me really resentful!

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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