Round Table Discussion: Alleviating the Impacts of COVID-19 on Women
I had the privilege of co-hosting a round table discussion with Mayor Watson, in my capacity as the Council Liaison for Women and Gender Equity, on Alleviating the impact of Covid-19 on Women living in Ottawa.
Women leaders from a diversity of sectors and backgrounds came together around the City Council table in Andrew Haydon Hall and joined in a dialogue around innovative ideas to address the impacts of COVID-19. Three key messages were shared during the discussion; to achieve a feminist recovery an explicit gendered and intersectional focus is necessary, this moment in time can be a catalyst for an economy that works for everyone as we move forward together. And if we are going to build an inclusive post-pandemic society, we need all pillars of society to participate.
There is no question that we have been through a life-altering, extremely challenging time in the last year and a half. We are not the same people were before the pandemic. This is not the same city it was before March 2020.
The pandemic shone a light on issues that face many women in our city. The priorities are still; basic income, food security, emergency shelter, an affordable place to live, increased violence in the home, and the challenges associated with ensuring their children get their education.
As of March 2021, in Canada 100,000 women permanently left the labour market. 12 times as many mothers left their jobs due to care duties compared to fathers.
There is a compounded stress that the pandemic put on black, Indigenous, and racialized women and gender-diverse people. It was made clear through the round table discussion that in order to build a foundation for a strong gender-inclusive recovery we need to break down the silos and come together to work as partners. We must recognize that care work is essential work, we need to address the root causes of systemic racism, and we must have diverse voices in our decision making.
A new word came out of the pandemic, “pivot”. Society have learned how to “pivot” to succeed. Now is the time to take that spirit of urgency and innovation that we have discovered within ourselves, and our new ideas and implement them in this next phase. We must raise awareness within City Council and the public about the most urgent priorities to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on women and gender diverse people in the city. To achieve this, we need to foster cross-sectoral alliances and partnerships, leading to new forms of community leadership in specific areas and strengthen collective resilience.
Every sector and every level of government, not just the City, needs to focus and think about how we can collectively come up with innovative solutions to the address the issues facing women and girls in our community. In my role as the Council Liaison on Women and Gender Equity I will continue to work with the city to build a dialogue with our community partners and find ways of bringing equity to every opportunity.