London’s women have been more likely than the city’s men to lose their jobs or have their working hours reduced during the pandemic, according to statistics highlighted by City Hall to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Government figures show that the unemployment rate among women in the capital was higher than among men during the last three months of 2020, standing at 7.2% compared with 6.7%, and that over the last year female unemployment rose by 3.5% compared with 2% for male.
Publication of the figures follows opinion poll findings for think tank Centre for London produced last month which indicated that a growing number of women in London had seen reductions in their disposable income compared with September and were working for less than five hours a week.
City Hall has also drawn attention to an increase of 6% in domestic abuse offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police between March and December last year, with Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden expressing concern that the Covid-19 crisis will have “a long-term impact on levels of domestic abuse”.
A “rapid evidence review” conducted for Sadiq Khan last autumn by academics at Manchester University found that while the mortality rate for women in London had been lower than that for men, woman had been disproportionately ill-affected by the pandemic’s economic, social and psychological impacts, with mothers far more likely to have lost their jobs or resigned from them, and also more likely to have been placed on furlough.
The review showed that women in London had taken on increased childcare responsibilities when working from home, with more than half of those who needed childcare saying provision was insufficient for their needs. This was a “substantial contributor” to losing jobs or being furloughed. The The review also concluded that lockdown conditions had “substantially increased the risk of domestic violence and abuse” and worsened existing situations.
The Mayor said the material published today “exposes the unacceptable gender inequalities in our city” and that these “have been exacerbated by the pandemic” and pledge that the London Recovery Board, a body composed of political, business, trade union and voluntary sector bodies, which he co-chairs with London Councils chair Georgia Gould, will “address the pattern of rising unemployment and economic inequalities, and ensure our city is a safe place where all women can thrive.”
The figures are released as campaigning for the London mayoralty and London Assembly seats intensifies before the 6 May elections, which have been delayed by a year due to the pandemic. Two of the parties currently represented on the Assembly have female candidates for Mayor: the Liberal Democrats’ mayoral bid is by Camden councillor Luisa Porritt and serving Green Party AM Sian Berry is in the mayoral race for the third time.
The Women’s Equality Party, whose mayoral candidate finished sixth at the last election in 2016, are represented this time by Mandu Reid. Other women who say they will run include environmental campaigner Rosalind Readhead and businesswoman Farah London, both as independents.
Image from International Women’s Day website.
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