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Lack of childcare found 'destroying' UK mothers' careers amid COVID-19

by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Saturday, 25 July 2020 14:07 GMT

Families walk under cherry blossom trees in Battersea Park, as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases grow around the world, in London, Britain March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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Women reported they were losing work due to pregnancy or childcare problems during the lockdown

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By Sonia Elks

LONDON, July 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Almost three-quarters of mothers in Britain have been forced to cut work hours because of childcare issues under COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a survey by a maternal rights group which warned more action was needed to protect women's careers.

More than eight in 10 employed mothers said they needed childcare to be able to work, but fewer than half said they had enough childcare to let them do their job during the pandemic, showed the survey by Pregnant Then Screwed released on Saturday.

"This lack of childcare is destroying women's careers," said the campaign group's founder and chief executive Joeli Brearley.

"They are being made redundant, they are being forced to cut their hours, and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the unpaid labour."

Studies around the world have found women are picking up more of the extra chores and childcare during the pandemic.

The International Labour Organization has warned coronavirus could wipe out "the modest progress" made on gender equality at work in recent decades, with women globally at greater risk of losing their jobs.

Across Britain, schools and nurseries were ordered to close under lockdown, leaving many families struggling to balance work with childcare and home schooling responsibilities.

The Department for Education said it was working to ensure hard-hit nurseries and childcare providers in England stay afloat as they gradually re-open by "block-buying" childcare places for the rest of this year.

"This will provide financial security to nurseries and childminders, meaning they can continue to provide the high quality childcare needed by parents as they return to work," said a spokeswoman in emailed comments.

Many women also reported that they were losing their jobs entirely due to pregnancy or childcare issues during the lockdown, according to the survey of almost 20,000 pregnant women and mothers conducted online last week.

Amongst those who were or expected to be made redundant during the pandemic, about half said they believed that their pregnancy or problems with childcare had played a role.

Black and ethic minority women were more likely to report that they were being made redundant, or expected to be, as a result of having children.

Related stories:

U.N. warns COVID-19 could wipe out gains in equality for women at work

Where are women leading the fight against COVID-19?

Chores and childcare: who bears the brunt in lockdown? Women

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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