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I saw a story published by CNN earlier this month that stated the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. The shocking part? Women accounted for all of those job losses, 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000.
While the situation is somewhat different in Canada, a study conducted by the Royal Bank of Canada in July found that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades.
The pandemic has been especially difficult for women because so many tend to work in hard-hit industries like food services, hospitality, health care, education, and social assistance. (Occupations also known as the “5 Cs,” caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning, many of which help contain the pandemic.)
Racialized women bear the brunt of the disparities. In June, I wrote a story for Windspeaker about how Indigenous women were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
But it’s not just jobs that have been affected. For women who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs but must work from home, a whole new set of challenges emerge while trying to juggle childcare, working with children at home and homeschooling. The Guardian reported that during the lockdown, the number of research articles from women plummeted (and those from men increased) as they navigated the challenges of childcare and research.
Despite the positive, meme-able moments of lockdown (like learning how to bake sourdough) navigating the hurdles of 2020 also had me locked in the bathroom fighting off tears of frustration and the dark, panicked conviction that I had utterly, completely failed as a parent.
Maybe it was trying to comfort my teen over the loss of her social life while also gently encouraging her to get off TikTok once in a while, as I navigated a video call with my 11-year-old and his teacher while prying the baby’s sticky fingers off the keyboard. At times it felt like it might break me.
At the best of times, women are often expected to be the social glue that keeps things running smoothly. And despite having support, at times during the more intense weeks of lockdown it just felt like I had nothing left, never mind trying to find the headspace to write or research for articles.
The thing is, I’m not alone. A new project out of Vancouver Island University aims to better understand how women are adapting to parenting in the pandemic.
Sociologists Gillian Anderson and her colleague Sylvie Lafreniere are researching the impact of COVID-19 on women and mother’s unpaid caring labour. They’re running a survey until the first week of February that is voluntary and anonymous, and they want to hear from you:
Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, is a Coast Salish artist and storyteller from Snuneymuxw, Hupacasath and Penelakut First Nations who has been making a real splash with his designs lately, from a new project writing and illustrating a children’s book about Salish wool dogs to creating artwork about justice, recognition and healing for Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report about discrimination in B.C. health care, released late last year. On Tuesday he’ll be speaking with VIU Graphic Design students about art and storytelling for their From A to Zoom event. If you’re not a graphic design student, you can catch his recent art lesson in an interview for the The Broadscast podcast.
What’s going on?
- Ongoing until Feb. 15: The Cumberland Culture and Arts Society is seeking submissions of short videos (about one minute) to be showcased between the artistic performances of the 2021 first annual Woodstove Film Festival. Submissions can feature anything from an original music performance to a dance routine. Deadline for submissions is 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. All selected entries will be showcased during the festival and online starting in March, with audience members encouraged to vote for their favourite entries. Winners will be announced in early April 2021. For more information or to enter, email [email protected].
- Sunday, Jan. 31: Sarah Lovegrove and Leslie Wilkin will host an online educational workshop via Zoom from 4 to 6 p.m. on trauma, psilocybin and psychedelic harm reduction designed to provide evidence-based, non-judgmental information for people who are using or considering using psilocybin to address trauma and other mental health and substance use concerns. The event will be co-facilitated by a registered mental health professional and trauma therapist and a former ER nurse and educator with lived experience using psychedelic medicines to treat trauma. Tickets available by sliding scale from $25 to $75 at withribbon.com.
- Saturday, Feb. 6: For those itching to get out and do some good (and probably have some laughs), meet members of the VIU Eco Club in the parking lot at Bowen Park along Wall Street on Saturday Feb. 6 at 12 p.m. With COVID-safe practices in place, you can help clean up garbage along the nearby railroad tracks. Email [email protected] for more information and fill out this COVID-19 tracing form ahead of time.
Help us understand Nanaimo’s rent problem
Last week, we asked renters for their input for our next investigation. This week, we want to hear from landlords. What’s changed in Nanaimo over the last five years from your perspective? What would you like renters to understand, and what’s the best way forward? Share your thoughts by filling out this short survey. The more landlords we hear from the better, so please help us spread the word.
That’s all for this week. The purpose of this newsletter is to uplift and connect. What type of content do you appreciate most? Please let me know. [end]