WALES’ leading gender equality charity, Chwarae Teg, has warned against complacency in the fight to achieve a fairer nation, as we look towards a recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.
In its annual State of the Nation report, published on Monday (8.2.21), Chwarae Teg outlines the progress made in Wales in terms of becoming a gender equal nation and explores the experiences of women in the economy, their representation and those at risk.
This year, figures show a positive drop in the gender pay gap from 14.5% to 11.6% in Wales, however this contrasts with worrying figures for female public appointments which have fallen from 64% to 43.1%, and a drop in female chair appointments from 56% to under 5%.
Overall the data set out in the report provides a very mixed picture, which is unable, at this stage, to predict the true impact of Covid-19 on gender equality.
October research by Chwarae Teg into the impact of Covid-19 on women has already highlighted the stark inequalities they have faced during the pandemic. Women are twice as likely as men to be key workers in Wales, more likely to have lost their jobs and have borne the brunt of home-schooling and caring responsibilities.
Data in the State of the Nation builds on this, underlining the sharp divide in other gender related areas. For instance 26% of women state ‘looking after family and home’ as a reason for being economically inactive compared to just 6.5% of men; 40.1% of women work part-time compared to just 11.8% of men; and 86% of single parents are women, which are by far the households most likely to live in poverty.
There are also challenges exacerbated by intersectional factors, with women from ethnic minorities much more likely to be economically inactive than their white female counterparts.
This issue compounds the disadvantages faced by many women, and significantly hinders their ability to reach their full potential in the economy, to take a leading role in public life and to avoid risk.
Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive and Dr Hade Turkmen, Research Partner, Chwarae Teg will lead a webinar for stakeholders later today to explore the report findings, the implications of Covid-19 on outcomes, and focus on solutions – “what works?” in tackling the causes of gender inequality and to deliver positive outcomes for women.
Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg, said:
“The last 12 months, due to Covid-19, have been wholly unpredictable and only time will tell whether trends demonstrated in this year’s State of the Nation report have long-term accuracy. However, what is certain, is the clear need for a gender equality focus as we recover. Many figures in our report emphasise the real risk, as we move out of the pandemic towards recovery, that women will be last to return to the labour market.
“Plans must look at the root of the problems affecting women, the way that different groups have been harder hit than others such as BAME people, those with a disability or living on low incomes, and consider the best way to level the playing field.
“If we don’t take this approach, then implications for women’s employment and career progression could be catastrophic and we’ll be rolling back the years instead of making progress.
“With Senedd elections on the horizon it is crucial that all those who could be running our nation in future understand that gender equality benefits all. They must demonstrate a real commitment to build back better using methods that directly tackle gender equality challenges, ensuring women can play a full part in all aspects of life.”