Coronavirus is having a devastating impact on women

Existing inequalities mean that women are set to be disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Without urgent action, the impact on women and girls will be devastating. 

Groups of women already disadvantaged by our society will be struggling the most. This includes women living with disabilities, black, Asian and ethnic minority women, women in unsuitable housing and migrant women with ‘no recourse’ or rights to public funds.

Over 60 charities have come together to call for immediate action from the UK Government to support women and girls during the outbreak. Please download the full list of asks here and send it to your MP and share it on social media using the hashtag #MakeWomenVisible. You can read a summary below. 

What we're asking for 

  1. Make women visible in crisis decision making: Women must be at the decision-making table and data collected by the Government, NHS and local authorities must be broken down by sex and other demographics including race and disability.

  2. Make women safe at work: The majority of key workers in high risk roles are women. They urgently need high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) that fits well. Pregnant women in public facing roles must be suspended on full pay rather than sick pay if the risk to them cannot be reduced, for example by offering them alternative work or home working. 

  3. Support parents during school and nursery closures: Child benefit should be increased, and the two-child limit and benefit cap under Universal Credit suspended. Children who cannot access school work because they do not have the right IT equipment must be provided with it. The Government needs to make employers and the public aware that furlough covers people who cannot work due to caring responsibilities. 

  4. Protect women from poverty and homelessness: Improve Universal Credit to prevent women falling into poverty during the crisis, by covering the cost of average rents and making payments sooner than 5 weeks. Sick pay and carer's allowance must be increased. Women who are or were recently on maternity leave are also at risk because furlough doesn’t work for them. 

  5. Protect women from violence and abuse during lockdown: Home is not a safe place for many women and girls. Urgent funding is needed to ensure that violence against women and girls services can cope with the impact of the Coronavirus and increased demand during lockdown.

  6. Make migrant women safe and release women from immigration detention: Ensure financial and housing support for all migrant women, particularly those who are destitute. Government must release women from immigration detention. England should follow Wales and Scotland and end ‘no recourse to public funds’.

  7. Safeguard disabled women’s rights, quality of life and care: Restore the law that upholds disabled and older people’s right to social care in England and Wales, and support disabled women to stay in work and live independently.

  8. Protect elderly women in care homes: Testing and PPE must be made available in all care homes to better protect older and disabled people.

  9. Reduce the number of women in prison to save lives: The early release scheme must be delivered with haste and extended to those with six months or less still to serve and those with underlying health conditions. Failure to act will costs lives and put strain on the NHS. 

This urgent call to action was led by The Fawcett Society with input from the below organisations:

The following organisations have supported these asks:

Agenda, anawim, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA), BackTo60, Brighton Women's Centre, British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Care International UK, Centenary Action Group, Centre for Women’s Justice, Changing Lives, Chwarae TegClean Break, Close the Gap, Community Union, DEWA Project, Evaw, Faith Matters, FiLia, FTWW: Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales, Gingerbread, Girls Friendly Society, Henna Foundation, Hibiscus Initiatives, IKWRO - Women's Rights Organisation, IRISi, INQUEST, Latin American Women's Aid, Latin American Womens Rights Service (LAWRS), Llamau, My Sisters’ House Women’s Centre, Oasis Cardiff, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Pregnant then Screwed, Rape Crisis Scotland, Refugee Women Connect, Rosa, SafeLives, Scottish Women's Aid, SignHealth: The Deaf Health Charity, Solace Women's Aid, Southall Black Sisters, Southwark & Lewisham Women's Hubs, Pecan, Standing Together, Step Up, Migrant Women, Surviving Economic Abuse, Tell MAMA, The Equality Trust, The Jo Cox Foundation, The Women's Institute, The Women's Centre Cornwall, The WOW Foundation, TIME’S UP UK, UK Civil Society Women’s Alliance, Wales TUC, Welsh Women’s Aid, West Midlands Women's Voices, White Ribbon, Women 50:50, Women's Enviormental Network, Women's Equality Party, WomenCentre, Working Chance, Working Families, Zero Tolerance Scotland, FORWARD, Our Streets Now.

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels