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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.

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.

eu immigrant sex worker
September 23, 2020

My mental health has been steadily planning since late March. Part of it is my fault - I hilariously fired my therapist in late February because I felt like I had dealt with all the issues I was seeing him for, and then the pandemic happened.
I came to Scotland a few years ago in part because it was a very convenient way to cut down time spent with my abusive family of origin, who are still in my home country, and also in part because my home country simply does not hire young women. Here I can support myself through my sex work, well enough to not have to rely on my parents for funds. Of course the pandemic wrecked my financial stability and my ability to work, and the government plan didn't plan any relief for people like me (not registered as self employed, no access to public funds). The two hardship funds (to which the government did not contribute) helped, those few hundred pounds were lifesaving in keeping a roof over my head, but not enough to make me comfortable, and I had to go back to work in May.
I've managed to not need to ask for money from my family. But all my friends, and my partner, here are more financially secure with me - they either still live with family, or family or state funds are covering their living expenses. I'm not upset at them for simply not having to worry about homelessness and starvation (we're in our 20s, I'm the weird one for not relying on my family), but I do wish they were more mindful of my situation when suggesting activities to do to pass the time - I wish my need for company and contact didn't need to come second to my need to pay my bills, but that's what it is.
And now the Scottish government is planning to criminalize sex work, which will be the cherry on top of this terrible cake.

I am alone in a foreign country and my survival depends on whether or not enough middle aged men are reckless enough to bend (not break) covid restrictions to come and pay me. These same men are highly unlikely to have been particularly strict with their restrictions, so I've had to make my peace with the knowledge that I will catch covid, and I'm not the most fit of people, so I fully expect long term consequences from it. At least I won't pass it on to anyone.

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!

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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