Now is the Time to: put women at the heart of economic recovery from Covid by investing in social care

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2022 Community Conference and Seminar
24 November 2021

The pandemic has put in sharp focus the value and importance of care work, the majority of which, paid and unpaid, is still undertaken by women.

However, conference notes that the value and importance of care work is not reflected in the pay and working conditions of care workers. Jobs traditionally done by women are not considered to be as important or as beneficial as comparable jobs mostly done by men.

The sector is starved of investment, which has a knock-on impact on women who work and who have caring responsibilities for children and other dependants.

Jobs in social care are overwhelmingly low-paid and insecure contracts are a feature of working life. Covid has made things worse.

Low paid care workers have been particularly affected as only one in ten low paid jobs can be done from home. It’s those that can least afford it who are paying the biggest price. Women who work and have children and/or other caring responsibilities continue to struggle to balance doing their job with childcare and home-schooling. One in six working mothers – mainly those on the lowest pay – had to reduce their hours at work as a direct result of school and childcare closures during lock-down. Some have been forced out of work altogether.

This is not just a phenomenon in the UK, this is the pattern World-wide.

2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action and the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and was intended to be a ground-breaking year for gender equality. Instead, the limited gains for women’s equality in recent decades have been put at risk of being rolled back as governments failed to account for the impact of pre-existing inequalities in social, political and economic systems on women.

Two years on since the first Covid-19 cases, governments World-wide have produced recovery plans with little or no mention of women’s unemployment or unpaid care work and there is also little mention of action to improve the pay and working lives of the care workers and others who continue to be at the forefront of responding to the pandemic. Yet the participation of women in work is critical to economic recovery and building back better.

Conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to work with the National Women’s Committee and NEC to:

1) Lobby UK governments to invest in social care recognising the importance and value of the social care sector to increasing the participation of women in the labour market more generally.

2) Lobby for the development of a women’s employment strategy which identifies the labour market issues facing women, in particular caring responsibilities, with a robust action plan to tackle these.

3) Campaign with the national Social Care Forum to improve pay and conditions for the thousands of mainly female low-paid care workers.