A new report in Connecticut issued today documents the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, and particularly on women and girls of color, across areas of health, economic security, child care, housing, mental health, safety, and hunger.
The report, Essential Equity: Women, Covid-19 and Rebuilding CT, calls on policymakers, government officials, philanthropists, nonprofit service providers, corporations and community members to respond to the wide-ranging findings and actionable recommendations - not only to improve the lives of women and girls, and their families, throughout the state, but to assure a strong economic recovery for Connecticut.
The 47-page report calls for gender and racial equity to be centered in relief and recovery, stating that effective economic recovery will not be possible without strong participation from women. According to the report, 49% of Connecticut’s workforce is female and 48% of those are essential workers. It also points out that women-owned business, because of the industries where they have the strongest presence, were most at-risk due to the pandemic.
Without affordable child care and paths to careers with family-sustaining wages, the report states, women will not have economic security and the larger Connecticut economy is less likely to improve. Findings from the report call include:
- Females surpassed males in unemployment claims for the first time in Connecticut’s history, and throughout the pandemic.
- Females of color account for over 1 in 3 initial (36%) and continued (43%) unemployment claims filed by females.
- 75% of females who applied for initial and continuing unemployment did not have a college degree*
- 30% increase in calls to the Safe Connect domestic violence hotline, accompanied by a 125% increase in time on calls and 43% increase in costs for safe housing
- 19% of females feel no, or slight, confidence in their ability to pay rent or mortgage next month (32% for Black females)
- 300% increase in SNAP applications for food assistance; four-fold increase in calls to 211 from individuals seeking help with buying food; 70% of those calls made by females
"For those of us who advocate for women and girls, we knew in our hearts that the impact of the pandemic would be devastating," said Jennifer Steadman, Executive Director, Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls. "Essential Equity provides the data to show just how profound the impact has been, even over the first six months of the crisis. Now that we have the facts, we can work to direct resources to the women and girls who need them and build solutions that will work better for women and girls, and, by extension, for all residents of Connecticut.”
Stating that “our economy depends on women,” the report indicates that 76% of parents who had to stay at home and not work due to child care are female, and nearly 1 in 3 families have not been able to find quality child care during the pandemic. Women-owned businesses were also among those most affected by the pandemic, as across all industries those with the highest percentage of female owners were in industries most impacted – healthcare and social assistance, education services, and retail. In addition, housing insecurity has risen with increased evictions and mortgage delinquency.
“Essential Equity took on the difficult task of assessing the impact of COVID-19 as the crisis was still occurring. We offer a first look at the impact on women and girls, told through public data. In addition, we worked with community partners to provide recommendations on how to approach relief and recovery in a way that builds a more equitable future in Connecticut,” said Michelle Riordan-Nold, Executive Director, Connecticut Data Collaborative.
The report recommends significant investments to improve access and affordability of quality child care, health care including telehealth, housing and job opportunities, including closing wage gaps and preventing discrimination. It also calls for all levels of government to acknowledge that racism is a public health crisis.
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