Over 50 organisations in Victoria have come together to write a joint statement calling for State and Federal Governments to acknowledge and pay special attention to the gendered impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“A gender analysis of the impact of pandemic has been largely invisible in public debate and planning,” the statement said.
“Many women are on the frontline, delivering essential services in nursing, disability and mental health care, aged-care, early childhood education, teaching, family violence, housing & homelessness, social support and retail.”
“Gendered work in caring professions has traditionally been low paid and insecure,” it continues. “Yet Victorian women are now finding themselves delivering whole of community solutions that support the entire state economy and public health plans.”
The statement addressed the reality that women will shoulder “most of the unpaid care work, reducing their hours or giving up paid work, turning the clock back on gender equality,” as well as acknowledging the fact that “women will also be more likely to care for older or disabled relatives and neighbours.”
In fact, they highlight a 2018 Victorian Government’s Report into the value of women’s unpaid labour in Victoria to be valued at over $205 billion.
“For women in insecure work who have lost employment altogether, they face increasing risk of poverty, building on already concerning statistics about the levels of poverty facing single mothers and single women in their senior years,” the statement said.
The over fifty organisations behind the statement also acknowledge the importance of recognising the risk of family and gendered violence while citizens are mandated to self-isolate at home, quoting a study that found family violence incidents spike during and after catastrophic events.
“Gender equal decision making is critical to achieving gender equality before, during and after disaster. Women, girls and gender diverse people must be seen, have their voices heard and their needs met,” the statement concludes.
The 10 Things Government Can Do Now to address the impacts of COVID-19 on women and gender diverse people include:
- Fund Gender & Disaster Workers across the State of Victoria
- Protect obstetric, gynaecological, sexual and reproductive health services from Covid-19
- Boost family violence prevention and responses activities to cope with an increased demand
- Ensure all Covid-19 Updates & communications and data gathering applies a gender lens.
- Provide a wage subsidy to all workers in hard hit industries, including casual women workers.
- Provide recognition and support to carers & educators at home.
- Provide essential service workers with urgent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and recognition of the risky work they are performing.
- All essential workers should also have childcare funded by the Commonwealth for the duration of the pandemic.
- Commence gender-based planning for post-pandemic reboot of the Victorian economy. Create a Pandemic Stand Down Taskforce to prioritise investment in services & infrastructure required to ensure Victoria gets back on its feet swiftly. Ensure decision making is gender equal.
- Get gender equality investment Back on Track. Ensure that all rebuild efforts and investment apply a gender lens so that women and men benefit equally from the long journey towards recovery.
Demands include the expectation that sexual and reproductive health services such as safe terminations remain virus free, an increase in investment in housing and accommodation for women’s shelters, in-depth research of the impact of the virus on marginalised groups including Indigenous women, women with disabilities, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women from rural and regional locations, and demand that service workers and caring professions receive an “essential service worker bonus” as part of the stimulus packages.
A list of all participating organisations who have endorsed the statement can be found here.