In the years we have been celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD), there has been a sense of one step forward, two steps back.
But in the last 12 months, women’s equality has hurtled decades backwards and off a cliff.
Next week marks IWD and let’s pre-empt the emails I get every year, demanding why there is no equivalent day for men.
There is. It is on November 19 and men can celebrate by recognising, though they are only 49 per cent of the population, they make up 70 per cent of MPs, 75 per cent of judges and FTSE 100 directors but occupy only a quarter of minimum wage jobs.
That’s a lot to get on a T-shirt so maybe the slogan could read: “Job done. Any chance of a cuppa?”
I jest. The statistics never tell the whole story, and factors such as class determine which men are more equal than others.
The majority of men, are either over or underworked, and underpaid and becoming a FTSE 100 director or judge, is as remote for them as any woman.
Classism is the one area of discrimination, which impedes equality perhaps more than any other, yet it is a largely forgotten cause.
From the moment we are born, class defines us, impedes or propels us and it has an enormous impact on gender equality.
If you haven’t yet watched Darren McGarvey’s Class Wars, you should but it will have you spitting chips, as us lower bred would say.
Three quarters of minimum wage jobs are currently filled by women, and most of those were born as they will die – poor. The Covid crisis has widened the pay gap for women, with ethnic minorities suffering most.
Yet it is women the nation has relied upon in the frontline of this pandemic, in the NHS and care.
The coronavirus pandemic risks setting back gender equality by 25 years, according to global data from UN Women. In a report, they found that females have been locked tighter into domesticity by Covid – bearing the brunt of the increased burden of chores and family care.
Rates of domestic violence have also soared in lockdown.
Jobs lost in the largely female dominated industries of retail and hospitality have thrown more women into poverty. Coming on the back of years of Tory austerity, brutal for women, Covid has been nothing short of disastrous.
And working mothers have suffered disproportionately.
Organisation Pregnant Then Screwed, found 15 per cent of mothers either have been made redundant or expect to be, with half blaming a lack of child care provision.
And 72 per cent of mothers have had to work fewer hours because of child care issues, with women more likely to have been furloughed than men.
Many companies have used Covid to get rid of pregnant women, leaving them out in the cold with no maternity benefits.
Neither the Scottish nor UK Government has prioritised working mothers, yet they are vital to economic recovery.
The Women’s Budget Group, an independent organisation, estimates that up to 95 per cent of the cost of free universal preschool child care could be recouped from the increase in employment and reduced benefits.
Sexism is largely to blame for the disproportionate struggle of working mothers, with a British Social Attitudes survey, revealing one in five people think women with young children should stay at home.
And don’t expect the PM to argue with that.
In 2006, Boris Johnson criticised women being “incentivised” into the workplace and he said children of low-income working mothers were “more likely … to mug you”.
And BoJo has failed to find his inner feminist since.
When we mark International Women’s Day this year, there is little to celebrate and much to mourn.
The theme of this year’s IWD is #chooseto challenge and the biggest challenge of all will be to regain all the ground lost to women in this, the most hellish of years for gender equality.
Kiwis showed us how - but we didn't listen
The UK currently finds itself playing a macabre game of Where’s Wally.
Except instead of a wee chap in a striped shirt and bobble hat, it’s a potentially deadly carrier of the Brazilian strain of Covid.
But fear not, head Keystone Cop, Matt Hancock, says there is nothing to worry about.
This week Hancock denied that delays in imposing quarantine hotel measures on travellers to the UK had put lives at risk. He said home quarantine measures and travel restrictions on Brazil had already been in place before the hotel policy was implemented. And there was “no evidence” the infected person had not followed home quarantine rules. True, as we haven’t a clue who they are.
It is mindboggling that hotel quarantine has only recently come into effect, both sides of the border, this far into the pandemic.
If only there was a country to show us a template for the success of prompt border closures in a pandemic.
Maybe somewhere like New Zealand, which has seen just over 2000 cases of the virus and 26 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
If only we could lose the real Wally – Matt Hancock.