International Women’s Day – What new challenges have women faced a year since the pandemic started?

Blog by Keeley Fawcett

International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate women globally and their achievements in the face of challenge. This year there was a new challenge however, in the form of Covid-19.

The pandemic, lockdown and all the associated ‘new norms’ have made life tougher than ever for everyone. I asked some of the USG team what it’s been like for them and how they believe gender has coloured their experience.

Home schooling has been one of the biggest challenges for working parents. Studio Manager Rob Morton says, “Women and men are equal and should have the same opportunities to work and to be a parent but the pandemic seems to be heightening the stereotype of a ‘working mother’. How often this year have we heard the term ‘working father’?”

Senior Graphic Designer and new parent, Andy Hunt adds, “I celebrate my wife for what she is doing for our family right now. I’m leaving each morning to go to work, seeing other people, interacting with the outside world. For her and for any new mum right now, during this pandemic, her world is suddenly so much smaller.”

Another huge impact of the pandemic has been on people’s mental health. PR Account Director Emily Howett says, “Women will definitely be struggling with the extra pressures of being at home without being able to do anything or go anywhere.”

Social Media Apprentice, Alice Deeping added, “I do think men also suffer with their mental health too but most of the time they hide it. Generally, I think women are more likely to be open with their feelings. It’s a shame, this is often portrayed as making them weaker and by default you’re ‘stronger’ if you keep it to yourself. This is something I would always challenge.”

Rob agrees, “This is a dated view by men, it’s okay not to be okay whoever you are, gender is irrelevant.”

There are also positive impacts of the pandemic. Emily says, “Personally, I’ve found I have a lot more time to focus on exercise and well being now that I’m not commuting. It’s been a great chance to take a step back and analyse my lifestyle before the lockdown and make improvements”.

Deputy Managing Director Hannah Elwell adds, “There’s no doubt the pandemic has been hard for everyone but many people have also thrived on the opportunity to spend more time at home, with immediate family, undertake training or take up a new hobby. Either way, what I’ve learned is to appreciate the small wins and just take each day as it comes.”

In conclusion, Paul Wright, Senior Account Manager says, “I don’t think the pandemic has been felt differently by men and women, I think it has been an equally difficult experience for everyone no matter their gender.”

Web Developer Bradley Pickering, says “I imagine it’s been the same for everyone. We’re all stuck inside unable to do what we want.”

And in terms of what our team would #ChoosetoChallenge, Hannah says, “We should all be challenging inequality whenever we see it, not just today. And for me that means challenging myself to reconsider my own habits, my own perspectives and choice of language. The change starts with me.

Andy concludes, “Job opportunities. In the future there shouldn’t be any media coverage if a woman has got a position previously dominated by males. It should be the norm. Not an exception.”