Yesterday evening, councillors, community organisations, and other local groups in Camden met to discuss a report concerning how women are being impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.
The report referred to was launched in March by the Camden Women’s Forum (CWF). It revealed how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting women at a disproportional rate – women are increasingly struggling to afford essentials such as food, energy bills, and housing costs.
The report noted guidelines and recommendations for the Council, its partners, and the local community to follow so that women can be provided with the support they need to avoid financial hardship.
Background into Camden Council’s Women’s Forum report
The Camden Women’s Forum brings together a range of experts to develop practical solutions to the issues and barriers facing women and girls in the community. It was established in 2019 and is co-chaired by Helene Reardon-Bond, Camden’s gender equality champion and Angela Mason, former Cabinet Member for Best Start in Life.
On 6th March, ahead of International Women’s Day, the Camden Women’s Forum launched a new report into how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting women in the borough. The Forum spoke to 100 women in the borough to inform the report.
Key findings in the report show that 90% of single parents are women and 60% of informal carers are women which is leading to increased stress and isolation and the need for more women to find flexible employment. Moreover, women are coming into the cost-of-living crisis from a disadvantaged position as women continue to earn less than men in employment and face a stark gender and pension pay gap.
Inflation is also hitting women unequally. For example, the cost of women’s formal shoes has increased by 75% in comparison to men’s which increased by 14% between June 2020 to July 2021.
Key recommendations drawn out of the report focused on providing for children, more opportunities for flexible working, and acknowledging the value of care.
At the debate, Helene Reardon Bond delivered a speech, along with Shabna Begum, from the race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, and John Hayes, a Headteacher at Gospel Oak. Moreover, Emma Stewart, the co-founder of Timewise – an organisation that works to promote flexible working, highlighted the employment barriers women still face.
Work that is taking place to address the issues raised in the report were also discussed at the debate, including a uniform fund to support low-income families and creating more training and education opportunities for women.
Angela Mason stated that this report is “exposing cracks in an already broken welfare system that is not set up to support the needs of women and their children”.
Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council stated that the Council has “written an open letter to Government to take urgent action to invest in our welfare system, our public services and in crisis support, including increasing access to flexible working and funding good quality, affordable childcare for all children up to five – women should not be going without food so their children can eat, or unable to find work around caring commitments”.
The cost-of-living crisis is continuing to push people into financial hardship. However, as explored in the report by the CWF, women are clearly being increasingly placed at a disadvantage, on top of existing economic barriers and discrimination. Camden Council’s recognition of the report is a move in the right direction to providing support to women, both in terms of additional financial support and the promotion of flexible work arrangements.