Coronavirus Exerting Intense Pressure on BAME Women
The COVID-19 pandemic is placing intense financial and psychological pressure on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women.
According to new research fronted by the Fawcett Society, nearly half of all BAME women (45.4%) are struggling to cope with the different demands on their time at the moment. This compares with just 34.6% of white women and 29.6% of white men.
Regarding poverty and debt, BAME mothers in particular reported that they were struggling to feed their children as a result of the pandemic. Further to this, a higher percentage of BAME women (42.9%) than white women (37.1%) said they thought they would end up in more debt because of the crisis.
In terms of those not in work due to retirement or disability, over twice as many BAME women (42.5%) reported that they had recently lost support from the government than white women (12.7%).
BAME participants were also more likely to report recently losing support from other people, yet were less likely to say they had people outside of their household who they could rely on for help.
More than half of BAME women also said that they were ‘not sure where to turn for help’ as a result of the ongoing pandemic, compared to just 18.7% of white female participants.
Regarding poverty and debt, BAME mothers in particular reported that they were struggling to feed their children as a result of the pandemic.
These findings come less than a week after Public Health England (PHE) published their review into how different factors have affected COVID-19 risk and outcomes.
PHE pinpointed social inequality as a key cause of the disproportionately high numbers of BAME deaths. The Fawcett Society have now shown how these factors leave BAME groups dangerously exposed to the pandemic’s economic consequences.
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, had this to say:
“This new evidence shows that those in power have avoided tackling the issues of systemic racism and structural inequalities for far too long, and this avoidance has worsened outcomes for BAME women in particular. Nurses, some of whom are BAME women themselves, see this in their work every day.
“The message is clear: equality and inclusion are the bedrock for good health, prosperity and a cohesive society. It is time for us to all talk seriously about the racism disadvantage some women face compared to the privilege of others, and take action.”
The Fawcett Society undertook their research in collaboration with the Women’s Budget Group, London School of Economics and Queen Mary, University of London. As well as uncovering the ethnic disparities in economic impact, the project also looked at the psychological consequences of the lockdown.
PHE pinpointed social inequality as a key cause of the disproportionately high numbers of BAME deaths.
Life satisfaction was found to be lowest among BAME women, with anxiety highest for all women in comparison to men. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, average life satisfaction stood at 7.7. In the Fawcett Society’s survey, BAME women scored just 5.1.
Around 2 in 5 respondents reported finding social isolation difficult to cope with, but this was slightly lower among white men.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, had this to say:
“As the government relaxes the lockdown, it must consider the impacts on different ethnic groups and also adopt a gendered approach. The unequal impact of this crisis is driven by existing structural inequalities and discrimination in our society.”
The research paper concludes by highlighting the specific disproportionalities in relation to employment, anxiety, debt and childcare. It makes a number of recommendations regarding how to remedy the situation, including immediately increasing child benefit to £50 per child per week, and suspending the No Recourse to Public Funds condition on non-EU migrant visas.