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The pandemic is affecting all of us, but some groups, including women, are harder hit by the labour market disruption, as they are more likely to be working in “shut down” sectors such as catering or retail.
Our ambition for Scotland’s recovery is set out in the core principles of our “Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making”. It recognises that the “harms caused” by the pandemic
“do not impact everyone equally” and that we must work to
“advance equality and protect human rights” in our response. We will ensure that the work that we do on recovery and renewal embeds a gendered analysis into our decisions and actions so that we can mitigate those impacts on women.
Given that the majority of caring and childcare responsibilities remain with women, what can the Scottish Government do to persuade employers to support women, who may suffer disproportionate disruption to their employment because of caring and childcare commitments, as we ease lockdown restrictions and move towards a return to school?
That is an incredibly important question. As the recovery process progresses, equalities, fair work and wellbeing will remain at the heart of our approach. All our focus remains on controlling and suppressing the virus during phase 2 and into phase 3. There is a role for both the Scottish Government and employers in mitigating the impact of control measures on women.
The Scottish Government, along with the Hunter Foundation, is providing funding £175,000 to Flexibility Works to support and promote the development of flexible and family-friendly workplaces. That includes offering vital advice and support on flexible working to businesses and organisations to help them to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
During phase 2, the Scottish Government and local authorities continue to provide targeted childcare support to the children of key workers and children who the local authority recognises are more vulnerable or at risk. The option to form an extended household as part of phase 2 of our recovery will no doubt have been welcomed by many and will offer more support for childcare and the wellbeing of single-parent families.
We have also announced an indicative date of 15 July for all other childcare settings to reopen, including early learning childcare and out-of-school care—that will be welcomed by parents and grandparents the nation over.