Back to school. Back to work. Back to being back. However, that isn’t exactly the reality for most women in the workforce.
Due to the implications of the pandemic, 1.4 million fewer women were working this past December than two years prior. As the pandemic wears on, the gender disparity in employment is only increasing. Although men and women alike have been impacted by COVID-19, due to the wide range of school shutdowns over the past two years, mothers are by far the most burdened.
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, employers were more lenient when it came to time off, child care, and financial support, but after two years and a few variants later, it has become very difficult for businesses to stay afloat whilst still allowing for accommodations. Nearly 6,000 schools were disrupted in November due to the presence of the Omicron variant resulting in thousands of children having to return home for remote learning. This burden then falls upon parents who are expected to either take time off work or quit in order to take care of their children at home.
Low-income single mothers have been hit the hardest. Already struggling to make ends meet, it has become even more difficult for single mothers to provide for their children when they must take time off to be a caregiver during remote learning. Some argue that there are plenty of babysitters and daycare options but these services tend to be quite expensive. Because of this harsh reality, mothers are forced to either quit their jobs or leave their children at home.
According to an article by Anchorage Daily News,
“Latoya Hamilton had just taken a job as a medical assistant when she got notice last week that her daughter’s school was going online temporarily. The single mother asked for time off. When it was denied, she did the only thing she could: quit.”
Suited For Change aims to support low-income single mothers such as Mrs. Hamilton who have jobs that require in-person labor through hospitality and retail. However, due to the fact that many schools have shut-down and mothers have had to quit their jobs, the barriers to professional success have only increased.
But what if something could be done to help out all of these women struggling because of this pandemic and the school shutdowns that come as a result? What if businesses started making new accommodations? What if we had some compassion? What if we showed these women that we care?
Some companies have taken strides in the right direction by adding more staff, implementing daycare into the office, and switching from in-person to online work during school shutdowns. Ivy & Sage (retailer), for instance, doubled its staff to ensure coverage for shifts whilst businesses such as Boeing have switched from in-person meetings to zoom calls. These measures are simple, but allow for women to have a greater cushion in a COVID-ridden society. Taking on the workforce and childcare can cause a lot of strain, especially when schools are shutting their doors left and right. With such an imperfect world and unforeseeable future, it is only fair for these single mothers are given adequate accommodations.
Until COVID disappears into the memories of the past and schools are flooding with students again, we must do our part to support working mothers and their children.
Lend a helping hand to those in need in our community by donating to Suited for Change and joining us in our mission to empower more women as they realize their full potential.
Find out more about how SFC has continued to support our clients through these tough times by watching the video below.
About Kenna Kilgallon:
Kenna Kilgallon is a SFC volunteer and currently a Junior scheduled to graduate in June of 2022 from the University of Washington. She attends the Jackson School and is passionate about women’s empowerment and policy development.
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