Economically vulnerable young women are among the hardest hit by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. In the second of our blogs sharing young women’s experiences, we hear from Iulia. She’s told us about concerns for her future financial stability and highlighted the challenges that LGBTQ+ women may be facing at this time.
Moving back home
I was sent to work from home on the 18th of March with the hope that we would be going back into the office after Easter break. I thought at the time that I was unrealistic as Wuhan was still in lockdown and both Italy and Spain were enforcing serious restrictions. So, I decided to immediately vacate the room that I was renting and move in with my mother in a different county, with the idea that we could pool our financial resources in case of unemployment.
Thankfully I am still working and will be furloughed for two months starting from May. I’m not sure if after the furlough period ends my job is secure, but I am grateful to have an income for the foreseeable future.
If I am able to keep my job I am concerned about the cost of moving back into the city near to work. If I do lose my job, I’m concerned about finding another one in the same sector outside of London as I wouldn’t be able to afford moving there for the foreseeable future.
I was recently discharged from the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that I was receiving through the NHS for my mental ill health. The NHS staff have been re-directed to positions where they are needed more. Thankfully, my mental health is getting better and I am not struggling at the moment. But I am concerned about resuming my treatment when it will be made available again as I’ve been told I will have to go through the referral and diagnosis process again. I think patients who have been discharged prematurely should be re-assessed directly without them having to go through the same lengthy process again.
I’m also worried for my mother, who is a key worker with the NHS and is at risk of getting coronavirus working on the frontline.
Young women need support
Many key workers are young women and I would like to see them being offered adequate protection gear regardless of whether they work for the NHS, in a school or in a supermarket. I also hope the government will extend the job retention scheme beyond June, as even when the lockdown will end businesses will still struggle and young women’s livelihoods will be jeopardised. And lastly, I hope the government will invest substantially more in the NHS where young women make a big proportion of staff.
I really appreciate that the company I work for was very straightforward and told us from the beginning what to expect in terms of being furloughed or possible unemployment as this has allowed me to plan for the future as much as possible.
I believe employers should try to contribute to the furlough salary of employees on low (or very low) wages if possible as losing 5, 10 or 20% of monthly salary can make a great difference for someone who was already struggling financially before the lockdown.
I think it’s worth recognising the struggle many young queer women face if they have to isolate with family members who are unsupportive or aggressively unhappy about their status as LGBTQ+. A lot of work is being done for victims of gender violence (which I fully support) and I would like to see a similar visibility of resources young queer women can access during these times.
Over a million young women are already struggling to live on low or no pay and will be amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.