Today, the UK celebrates the reopening of pubs, restaurants and thousands of businesses across the country and this week also saw football matches resume yet it’s noticeable (at least to me) that many female led businesses remain closed.
FEMALE LED BUSINESSES AT THE BACK OF THE QUEUE :
Earlier this week MP Caroline Nokes addressed the House of Commons where the Secretary of State was noticeably not present and she highlighted the following :
‘We have seen a business recovery designed by men for men and female led businesses have been left to the back of the queue.
Men need haircuts but find less need for a pedicure or leg waxes and it is absolutely noticeable that the beauty industry has 90% female employees and majority of them are female led businesses.
We are preventing our female entrepreneurs from getting back to work.
We’ve been very quick to see football, golf and fishing return (and whilst women also like these things) – it is again notable that football audiences are 67% male but you cannot yet reopen a yoga studio.
There is a massive difference between factory style gyms with bouncy treadmills and individual yoga and pilates studios with very few aerosol emissions and a space which can be cleaned thoroughly between classes and where you can have sufficient space between individual participants.
Again it is noticeable that Yoga instructors are 80% female and the client base also predominantly female.
We have seen a male led recovery taking little account of the physical, emotional and mental well-being of women. (although noted their financial well-being has not been mentioned ).
We need to have recovery that brings women along with us or else we will have failed.” – Caroline Nokes
QUEUE INVISIBLE WOMEN :
Caroline Criado Perez states in her book ‘Invisible Women’ –
‘Seeing men as the human default is fundamental to the structure of human society’
Invisible Women is a story of what happens when we forget to account for half of humanity and the book uncovers how the gender data gap harms women when life proceeds more or less as normal….where in a nutshell women remain unseen and unaccounted for.
Today on Super Saturday, we are witnessing that gender data gap in action. And let’s face it, we’ve seen it throughout the pandemic.
There have been huge numbers of Women trying to manage their workload as business owners, leaders and workers where the majority (but not all) of childcare has fallen on many of them within the home. (and I am not going to salute the men for doing their fair share as it should be given, even if they earn more..)
And part of the reopening plan included, Grandparents and family members NOT being ABLE to help with childcare but cleaners (who to be fair are predominantly women) being allowed back into the home to boost the economy. Women trying to work within the home and manage childcare were not deemed as succinctly important to address their needs financially, mentally or emotionally.
The reality is : the gender data gap is everywhere and as women we are so used to it, we ourselves often don’t see it either. We just put up with not being seen.
The truth is : you might even find yourself justifying that really a pedicure and yoga is not essential but that is only due to the conditioning we all receive that the needs and wants of men are the human default in all of society and women remain largely invisible (and let’s face it our feet are much less a corona risk than the hair on our heads).
If you don’t believe me let’s just account for the fact — we have had thousands of scientific studies on the harmful chemical effects on miners (a largely male dominated role) and yet almost zero when it comes to the use of cleaning chemicals used daily in the job of cleaners (or the weight lifted by carers) which is largely seen as women’s work and work women they are deemed ‘lucky’ to be paid for in the first place.
SHARE THE INVISIBLE WOMEN TODAY :
Today, I know many women whom I have supported as a coach, mentor and at times a friend who are unable to re-open their businesses – these are businesses with thousands of pounds of outgoings every month and little if any income coming in.
During the Prime Minister’s question time – Boris Johnson stressed we must strike a balance with the re-opening of businesses but failed to notice that the balance that has been struck is at the cost of female led businesses and services used predominantly by women.
So I write this to acknowledge all the hard working women who are unable to reopen today, let’s make this next decade the one where women are truly seen and heard.