Women's Leadership & COVID-19
Updated: Jun 24
The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to have both short and long-term disproportionate effects on women – particularly those of lower economic status, BAME women and those with disabilities. Therefore, it is vital that response and recovery decision-making accounts for the needs and experiences of women in all their diversity. This can only be done if there are women at the table. Yet, women are not equally represented in decision-making roles responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Women are underrepresented in leadership roles – only 27% of cabinet ministers and 34% of MPs are women.The team PM Boris Johnson assembled to lead the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 response is composed of all men. The pandemic has underlined the need for diverse women’s involvement in leadership at every level of policy-making.
The Centenary Action Group has brought together women's rights organisations, activists and politicians to call for women's involvement in government decision-making and submit evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into Coronavirus and the impact on people with protected characteristics.
The submission has been put together by members of the Centenary Action Group including Women for Refugee Women, Glitch, CARE International UK, Women's Budget Group and Women's Equality Party.
Centenary Action Group Recommendations to the Government
1. Consult with diverse women's organisations and include women in the COVID-19 response and recovery decision-making.
2. Implement Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 to address the lack of diversity amongst political candidates.
3. Ensure that all women at risk of domestic violence can access safe spaces through properly funded services
4. Provide guidance to employers on measures they must take to ensure their employees are safe from increased risk of online abuse due to lockdown homeworking.
5. Implement the ILO Convention 190 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
6. Provide financial support measures that reflect an understanding of women’s position in the economy and in society, including unpaid care work.
7. Ensure that women continue to have the same levels of access to sexual and reproductive health services
8. Ensure that all data collected in relation to Covid-19 and its impact is disaggregated by sex and other protected characteristics.
9. Remove barriers to accessing public funds and asylum support, so that all migrant women can receive financial support and housing, whether through the mainstream benefits system or the National Asylum Support Service
10. Close all immigration detention centres and provide women released from detention with safe accommodation so that they can self-isolate.
11. End data-sharing between the NHS and the Home Office, and suspend all NHS charges, so that migrant women, including those with suspected coronavirus, can access vital medical care.