See details of update at the bottom.
When Boris Johnson and his gang of largely white male cronies decided that schools should return on 8 March, I don’t expect it occurred for him a second that this is International Women’s Day, and that for mothers who have been battling for months to hit deadlines while doing fricking fractions, it is the best IWD celebration we could have hoped for.
Yes, the house seems really quiet. Yes, after two months of chaos, the silence is deafening and it’s really hard to concentrate. And yes, I’m feeding myself all the snacks that I would have fed the children, as well as five cups of strong coffee (which I don’t recommend.)
But for working mothers, who statistically and anecdotally have done the lion’s share of parenting through the COVID lockdown, hopefully we can now have the headspace to get shit done, and get it done as quickly and as well as we know we can, within normal working hours.
For those of us with older children, life has been easy compared with parents of the very wee things I’ve encountered asking for help with wardrobe malfunctions during conference calls. But you still have to make sure an 11 and 13 year old are actually doing the online learning they say they are; that they take proper breaks; that they aren’t on their phone to mates all day; that they eat something other than toffee popcorn for lunch; that they get fresh air and exercise; and that they TAKE FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM SCREENS AND DON’T ARGUE THE MINUTE THEY ARE AWAY FROM THEIR DEVICE. And I’m one of the lucky ones.
It should be incumbent on all companies to take into consideration the extraordinary working environment that we still find ourselves in and make sure female employees a) aren’t missing out on expected career milestones and b) are given the wider support they need.
In January, a survey published by a group of women’s organisations including the Women’s Budget Group and the Fawcett Society, found that twice as many mothers as fathers had to take time off with no pay due to school closures or a sick child, raising fears that women are shouldering the fallout of COVID19.
Women are also statistically more likely to have been furloughed, and to be let go after being furloughed.
It is great to see the International Bar Association today (8 March) launch a substantive nine-year project to work out the causes of gender disparity. But I can tell you today for nothing that the past year has been a massive career setback for many working mothers. And if we really do want to mark International Women’s Day, let’s focus on what female employees need right now, today, not just in nine years, when quite frankly it will be too late.
UPDATE: With thanks to the reader who said:
I hope you are well and remaining sane through the latest lock down.
I am being picky, but I have to take issue with your breaking news today declaring “UK schools go back”.
What you meant was English schools go back! Here in Scotland mothers ( and fathers 😊 ) are still doing fricking fractions ( my personal challenge today being simplifying fractions with a 10 year old!!).
We still have another week before primary pupils return and my daughter, who is in secondary school, will not return full time until after the Easter holidays ( Area and Volume calculations for her maths today ☹)
Anyway Picky I know, but I’m sure you don’t want to alienate your Celtic readers ! 😊
Point taken and duly updated!