Caroline Nokes MP: Covid-19 – Women are vulnerable and marginalised

We recently posted a piece on the Women & Equalities Committee. 10 of the 11 members are women, including the chair, Caroline Nokes (C, Romsey and Southampton North).

Politics Home yesterday published an article by Noke – We cannot afford to leave anyone behind in our response to coronavirus. Extracts:

The Government’s response to Covid-19 risks exacerbating existing inequalities for the most vulnerable. This is why the Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry to examine this further.

In these extraordinary and unprecedented times, the Government has taken extensive measures to support and protect the population from Covid-19.

However, as the crisis deepens, some of the unforeseen consequences of the pandemic, the emergency legislation, and of other policies and plans are becoming more visible. We have already seen examples of the impact on people who may already be vulnerable and marginalised.

Women’s Aid, the Victim’s Commissioner [J4MB: The vile Vera Baird QC, a radical feminist] and others have warned of the increased danger to women and children experiencing domestic abuse; isolated with the perpetrator and facing even greater barriers to leaving. The healthcare, education, support and housing/refuge services that identify and assess risk and support victims are under overwhelming pressures…

In employment rights, Working Families reports that legal advice lines have been inundated with calls from pregnant women who have been made redundant while men have been kept on, and others who have been told they must go to work or face the sack despite being categorised as a vulnerable group in Government guidance…

A recent article in the Lancet criticised the lack of gendered response to the Covid-19 outbreak, pointing out that “recognising the extent to which disease outbreaks affect men and women differently is a fundamental step to understanding the primary and secondary effects of a health emergency on different individuals and communities, and for creating effective, equitable policies and interventions.” [J4MB: No recognition that more men than women are dying of the disease.]

I would go further: we must apply this logic to all equality issues. As Government plans develop, it will be essential to understand the impact on individuals and groups who are already marginalised because of disability, race, sexual orientation, or any of the other characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. [J4MB: By “other characteristics” she means gender, and specifically women.] Otherwise, we risk failing to create the most effective interventions. We risk exacerbating existing inequalities and divisions. At this time of unprecedented emergency and great national anxiety, we cannot afford these failures. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind. [J4MB: Anyone other than men, obviously.]

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