This week we have marked International Women’s Day 2021, both in Parliament and elsewhere, and it has been a great opportunity to celebrate the strength of women through the pandemic, and also to look forward to what I hope will be better times.
The ONS has released this week its overview into the gendered impact of covid-19. It is right to focus on the fact the virus has killed more men than women, and we still need to understand why that is. But it was reassuring to have the findings of the Women and Equalities Select Committee confirmed by the official statistics. Women have been impacted more financially, they have been more likely to be furloughed, they have carried the largest share of home schooling and childcare, and as a result their careers and earnings have suffered.
I was pleased on IWD21 to hear the Government announcement of a call for evidence for the forthcoming women’s health strategy. However, I think the evidence from the ONS tells us we need to not just focus on women’s health, but also on their job prospects. I took part in a zoom call with the Employment Minister this week where I raised that point and also bent her ear about Kickstart for a local employer.
In other news, it is 10 years since my colleague Guy Opperman collapsed in Parliament and had to have emergency surgery for a brain tumour. To mark the anniversary he has challenged 10 colleagues to take up a March fitness challenge. I am lucky to be one of them, and have upped my exercise with a commitment to run 10km 10 times in a month. I am 5 in already, and it is getting marginally easier, but I will be nominating a local charity and doing some fundraising around this as well.