SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said The Executive Office is failing to adequately address the impact of the Covid pandemic on women.
Ms McLaughlin said the responsibility for this lies with the Joint First Ministers.
Surveys have shown that women have lost out more than men from the economic impact of Covid. They are more likely to work in sectors that were shut down; they were more likely to have lost their jobs; they were more likely than men to have been unable to work because of lack of access to childcare and the need to do home schooling; and were much less likely to save money during the pandemic.
There was also an increase in domestic violence against women during the pandemic.
Ms McLaughlin said:
“Women have disproportionately suffered from the pandemic, being more likely to have lost work or even their jobs. Not only has The Executive Office failed to take the specific challenges faced by women seriously enough, they have not even consulted properly with the women’s sector with their Covid response planning.
“I am very concerned to read the report from the Women’s Resource & Development Agency which claims there was minimal engagement with women’s organisations in the drawing up of two Covid recovery plans, with groups given as little as three working days to respond to a draft plan. This is not enough and it is not good enough.
“While The Executive Office recognised in its planning that it could take a decade before the negative impact of the pandemic on women will be corrected, the recovery plan itself did little to address the needs of women. Not least of the necessary measures is to increase the provision of affordable childcare. A recent report from the NI Fiscal Council noted that childcare is one of the few areas where NI spends less than the other UK nations.
“In my role as the chair of the Assembly’s committee for The Executive Office I will be calling for the Joint First Ministers to increase support for women in work and for their department to improve consultation with women’s organisations in the future.”