We are in uncertain times as the world faces a global pandemic. While no one is immune to this COVID-19 and its effect on our lives, we know that women will suffer the most.
- Women were doing 3 times as much unpaid care work in the household as men even before the virus. As schools close, caregiving and virtual schooling responsibilities for children will fall even more heavily on women, along with obtaining groceries to sustain the family.
- The industries that have been most economically impacted by closures are dominated by women, such as hospitality, restaurants, and food production along with domestic workers and caregivers. These women may be laid off and facing the pandemic without health insurance.
- The majority of frontline healthcare workers are women, increasing their risk of infection as healthcare workers reuse or go without protective equipment due to shortages.
- Women who are experiencing domestic violence are even more at risk than usual, as they face isolation from others and may be forced to shelter-in-place with an abuser in a time of stress and economic uncertainty.
Our Live Your Dream Award recipients will face all of this along with additional challenges and need our support.
92% of Live Your Dream Award recipients are single, divorced, widowed, or separated, providing financial support and caregiving for an average of 2 dependents.
More than half of our Live Your Dream Award recipients have experienced gendered forms of violence (domestic violence, child abuse, trafficking, or sexual assault).
Live Your Dream Award recipients are highly likely to work in helping professions—nearly 80% of them go into fields like healthcare, mental health, or education. They are truly on the front lines fighting this pandemic.
9 ways to give extra support to women during this pandemic*
1. If you are financially able, consider donating to organizations that provide vital support to those in need. We are currently requesting gifts to ensure we can keep supporting women and girls through this crisis.
2. Sew masks to donate. With the shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals, many places are accepting donations of home-sewn face masks. After you distribute them to healthcare professionals, consider sharing masks with women you know so they can feel safer while running essential errands.
3. Local domestic violence shelters may be accepting donations of items like toilet paper, sanitizing products, or shelf-stable food. Ask if they are accepting fun items as well, such as magazines, candy, or anything that may bring a bit of happiness to the women and kids sheltered there.
4. If you have an old laptop or tablet, consider donating it. Many single mother families are unable to afford laptops or home computers, making work-from-home not an option and remote learning very difficult for school age kids. Organizations like Computers with Causes and Everyone On accept technology donations and distribute them to those most in need.
5. Call or email your representatives and express your concerns about the consequences this pandemic will have for women. Urge them to support The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which would provide free testing to those who need it, expand access to temporary paid sick and family leave, increase funding for nutrition assistance, unemployment insurance and Medicaid, and ensure protections for health works.
6. If you know a woman who works in an essential profession, ask how you can support them. For example, many employees are working longer shifts and are unable to make it to the grocery store for their own family’s needs. You can offer to drop off some items for them.
7. Share domestic violence resources. Post the Domestic Violence Hotline number on all of your social media channels once or twice a week.
8. Share online resources to help parents with educating their children or keeping them engaged.
9. Simply reach out to women you know and check in over the phone, email, or snail mail. Connection helps all of us feel less isolated.
Be a good citizen and do your part to flatten the curve so that fewer people will suffer. Wash your hands, wear your face mask, stay at home as much as you are able, and share this message!
*Always follow physical distancing and safer-at-home advisories from your local authorities while implementing any of these ideas to keep you and your community safe.
Jackie Schrauger is Program Director at Soroptimist / LiveYourDream.org. She develops program materials and resources to support our global Dream Programs. Jackie brings a great wealth of nonprofit experience from her past roles at Career Wardrobe, Food Moxie, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Philadelphia, and received her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.