Report highlights the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s economic mobility

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a damaging effect on women’s economic mobility. That’s according to a new report launched today (06.07.21) by Rethink Ireland.

‘The Impact of Covid-19 on Women’s Economic Mobility’ is based on testimonies from participants of programmes run by Awardees of Rethink Ireland’s Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund. The Fund is the first in Ireland to support social enterprises and charities who are working to improve women’s economic mobility.

Disproportionate impact on women

Through testimonials and case studies from women in direct provision, women parenting alone, transgender women and women in rural Ireland, the Report outlines the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has affected women’s jobs and incomes, home care responsibilities and led to an increase in domestic violence and worsening mental health.

The Report found that women’s employment opportunities have been affected during the pandemic due to digital literacy issues, increased care responsibilities, and job displacement as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Commenting today (06.07.21), CEO of Rethink Ireland Deirdre Mortell, said: “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.”

Also commenting today, Director of the National Women’s Council Orla O’Connor, said: “As a partner in publishing this report, we wanted to highlight that the impact of the pandemic has been undeniably gendered. Central to women’s economic equality is the need for investment in the care economy and in supporting women into decent work but 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. If we are to build a more equal post Covid-19 society and economy, it is vital that we use a gender and equality framework as a lens to guide decisions about how public funding and resources are allocated.”

Some of the measures recommended in the Report include:

  • Introduction of targeted measures to support women into employment post-Covid-19 including reskilling programmes and social welfare supports.
  • Addressing the economic inequalities experienced by working class women, lone parents, women of colour, Traveller women, Roma, women seeking asylum, disabled women and carers.
  • Improving decision making by ensuring the most diverse representation of women are present at all tables where decisions regarding social and economic policy are made.
  • Gender and equality budgeting embedded in all economic decision making to ensure the allocation of resources tackles inequality.

Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund

Introduced in 2020, the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund will deploy €1.8 Million over three years. The Fund was created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Bank of America and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The Fund supports six charities and social enterprises enhancing women’s economic mobility. The Fund aims to empower 1,000 women to secure employment across Ireland. The Awardees are Dress for Success; An Cosán; TENI; Irish Refugee Council; Westmeath Community Development and Equal Ireland.

CEO of Rethink Ireland Deirdre Mortell, added: “The role Rethink Ireland plays through our Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund is now more important than ever before. The Fund is supporting organisations who are doing vital work in promoting women’s employment opportunities. These organisations can play a key role in helping to ensure women are included and not left behind in the post Covid-19 economic recovery.”

Also commenting today, Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America Europe DAC Fernando Vicario, said: “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.”

The Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Report can be downloaded from: www.rethinkireland.ie/reports

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