By Delnita Smith
For centuries women have dealt with the brunt of inequalities. The disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic have continued to mirror inequality, having a more devastating effect on women than men.
The challenges, mostly faced by women, ranged from dealing with working from home while trying to manage their children’s virtual schooling, or having to work and figure out child care because their children could no longer go to their school building, to job loss or closed businesses ordered shut down. With the devastation of it all, it’s no surprise that depression and stress would also become a factor.
Pre-pandemic, working from home was a luxury for some. But working from home and overseeing virtual schooling of children from home at the same time meant double work for the working moms.
According to The New York Times, 66 percent of mothers say they, rather than their partners, are chiefly responsible for child care while only 24 percent of men are primary child care providers.
In most families, the mom is the caregiver attending to the needs of the children. As a woman and mother, having to adjust to the new order of things was taking a toll on me mentally.
Struggling between needing to work, but not wanting to neglect your kids can be emotionally and physically draining. Just imagine being in the middle of a work project, or in my case, learning a completely new business model, and being interrupted at any moment by your children or household needs.
The guilt of feeling like you’re failing at balancing it all is valid. For the women who are essential workers with children at home, some with no adult supervision faced a different level of mounting guilt and stress. It’s a tall order for a woman to leave her own children at home to answer the demands of what was and still is necessary to save lives and serve others. Many organizations rose to the occasion by making childcare to essential workers a priority.
The need to control the spread of the virus forced the shut down that affected many businesses. Unfortunately, this meant loss of wages, job positions being shifted or phased out, and far too many businesses having to close its doors for good.
The National Women’s Law Center reports “156,000 jobs were lost by women in December 2020.” The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report shows that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first month of job loss since the economy started adding back jobs in May 2020.
All of the losses were women’s jobs. Men gained 16,000 jobs, resulting in the bureau’s net figure. Although women have been grossly misrepresented in the workplace, they are showing up in the growth of starting their own businesses and creating their own successes in the face of the pandemic.
Many women who have placed their dreams and ideas on hold because they worked for someone else, were in a sense forced to dream out loud.
Their ideas became their ticket to financial growth. Many grew in profits that well exceeded the income from their former employment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 1.5 million new business applications in the U.S.
Up 82 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago, and out of necessity, most of those businesses were started by women.
Delnita Smith is a life coach and certified human behavior mastery consultant. She is the mother of four children including a second grader and a 10th grader whom she has guided through virtual learning.