Call for taskforce on women’s employment issues

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Work wants to see a taskforce set up to ensure women don’t get left behind in the economic recovery.

Workers in an office sit far apart and wear face masks for virus avoidance

 

The Government needs to take urgent steps to support women’s employment, including setting up a taskforce on women’s employment to ensure women don’t miss out on the economic recovery after Covid, according to a cross-parliamentary report.

The Women and Work All-Party Parliamentary Group, co-chaired by Jess Phillips MP and Laura Farris MP and supported by a group of cross-party MPs and peers, says women have been overrepresented in sectors which have been shut down for long periods of time in the pandemic, such as hospitality and retail.

It adds that women have undertaken the majority of childcare and other caring responsibilities and are more likely to be in insecure or low-paid employment, which offers them little to no protection. Additionally, it says, women are heavily represented in the health and care workforce, who have been on the front line working tirelessly to fight the virus. However, the APPG says Government policy to date does not reflect this gendered impact and risks leaving women, particularly those already marginalised women, behind.

The report follows a similar one from the Women and Equalities Committee. It urges the Government to look beyond the economic impacts of the pandemic and consider women’s wellbeing as a whole, with a focus on prioritising mental health and wellbeing; taking urgent action to close the gender pensions gap; and extending the provision of free period products to more public places.

In addition to their report, the group has created an employer toolkit to help business in taking steps to empower women at work and recognise their responsibility in relation to employees’ wellbeing.

Jess Phillips MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG, said: “What’s become clear is that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and that women, particularly marginalised women, have suffered the most. The Government cannot risk going backwards on women’s equality and must now look urgently at this issue. If these recommendations are ignored, we risk a more unequal society and damage that will take decades to reverse”.

Laura Farris MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG said: “We cannot ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on women’s employment. The reasons for this are multi-faceted. Sometimes sectoral – such as in hospitality, retail and beauty services which employ disproportionately more female employees; sometimes practical – women choosing to take redundancy to meet the demands of homeschooling, sometimes economic – where insecure low paid jobs employing women have been dispensed with.

“The Government has said that the road to recovery will have women’s employment at its heart. Establishing a taskforce would be the first step to ensuring that there is a conscious effort to support women, who have borne the brunt of the economic impacts. Without this, we cannot build back better”.



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