Has the UK government’s Covid-19 response discriminated against women?

A thinkin for international women’s day

In February 2021, the Women and Equalities Committee published a report on the impact of Covid-19 on women’s lives. It said that “gendered inequalities in the economy have been ignored and sometimes exacerbated by the pandemic policy response.” The design of the government’s key schemes “overlooked […] the specific and well-understood labour market and caring inequalities faced by women.” From the postponement of mandatory gender pay gap reporting and the prioritising of investment into male-dominated sectors, to the structure of the furlough scheme and the closure of schools forcing women out of work, Covid has dealt a hard blow to women’s equality.

The Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, has stated that policy responses need to be considered “in the round” – but does the government’s record amount to a neglect of their legal duty to ensure people are not disadvantaged based on protected characteristics?

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Liz Moseley
Members’ Editor

Joeli Brearley
Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed

Bell Ribeiro-Addy
Labour Member of Parliament for Streatham, her home constituency