Based on the Report by Mná ná hÉireann | Women of Ireland, Rethink Ireland
According to a newly launched report by Rethink Ireland, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disadvantageous effect on women’s economic mobility. The report ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Women’s Economic Mobility’ was launched on June 7th, 2021. To promote the launch of the Report, Rethink Ireland held an online discussion on how to ensure that women are not left behind in the pandemic recovery process. The Report’s findings are based on the testimonies of women in direct provision, women parenting alone, transgender women and women in rural Ireland. The report exposes the extent to which the pandemic has impaired women’s professional lives, home care duties and increased the number of domestic violence cases and worsening mental health.
The Report concluded that women’s professional opportunities have been affected over the course of the pandemic due to digital literacy issues, elevated care duties, and employment displacement because of the pandemic restrictions that were put in place. Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland stated:
“Women’s economic mobility has suffered a significant setback because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has revealed and compounded the economic and social inequalities faced by women – particularly for women from minority groups and economically disadvantaged communities.
“Rising unemployment during the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, the burden of home care and home schooling was carried disproportionately by women, and there has been an alarming increase in domestic violence cases during the lockdowns.
“To help ensure women are not left behind in the post-Covid economy recovery, our Report has recommended a series of measures the Government should support to improve women’s economic mobility. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, now is an ideal time for us as a society to reaffirm our commitment to promoting women’s economic mobility as part of wider equality agendas.”
In conclusion, the report finished with a list of recommendations in order to protect women as the country begins to emerge to a post-Covid recovery state. The recommendations outline measures to support women into employment including reskilling programmes and social welfare supports, as well as acknowledging the economic inequalities of minority women including women of colour, disabled women, transgender women, women seeking asylum and Traveller women.
The findings from this Report highlight the need for a more diverse representation of women in the decision-making process of social and economic policy. More action needs to be taken to prioritize and invest in the childcare system; this is fundamental in order to pursue women’s economic equality.
Director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor acknowledged this rising matter, and commented in accordance: “Our childcare system continues to be one of the most poorly funded systems in Europe and we have one of the highest rates of low paid workers in Europe …. it is vital that a gender and equality framework be used as a lens to guide decisions about how public funding and resources are allocated.”
According to Fernando Vicario, the Chief Officer of Bank of America Europe DAC: “The research shows that Covid-19 has impacted women disproportionately. The role that Mná na hÉireann plays is essential in the recovery and support provided to women. Since its inception in 2019, Mná na hÉireann has benefitted hundreds of women, enabling them to secure the skills and knowledge needed to join the world of work. We look forward to our continuing partnership, together we can build a better future for the women of Ireland.”
Personally, as a female who has just returned to work due to the pandemic, I feel as though this conversation really needed to get started and this is merely the beginning. Now is the time for us as a society to re-establish our responsibility and continue the support for women’s economic mobility, as a part of a broader equality agenda. The only way we will not leave women behind, in the future is to keep the conversation going, as well as the comprehensive evidence.