The sexism of this society has meant that the care-givers, particularly women of color, have borne the brint of dealing with the crisis. The shelter-in-place necessitated by the pandemic has resulted in a sharp noticeable increase in cases of domestic abuse of spouses and children. The increase in repressive police violence that has accompanied the pandemic, and provoked a massive response of solidarity and resistance, also reflects institutionalized racism and sexism within law enforcement. Nurses, obviously not exclusively women, have been in the forefront of facing down the astro-turf “re-open now” protesters demanding the “freedom” not to wear masks. They have also led struggles for adequate Personal Protective Equipment for medical care-givers.
The profound lack of social services have meant that going forward the lack of capacity for high-quality childcare places inordinate burdens on women in this society. This has been made manifest to everyone as people are sheltering in place with schools closed, massive unemployment, and people who have kept their jobs attempting to work from home while caring simultaneously for children and elders.
I Volunteered For The Covid-19 Vaccine Trial To Fight Medical Sexism
Louisa*, 34, is one of thousands of volunteers taking part in Covid-19 vaccine trials across the UK. We spoke to her about the process so far and her motivations for taking part.
BY KATIE O’MALLEY 06/19/2020
‘I don’t think I’m brave,’ Louisa* says, matter-of-factly. ‘Bravery is the overcoming of fear – I don’t feel scared.’
The 34-year-old is used to her body being tested on. As a baby, she was one of the first in Leicestershire to take part in a heart monitor trial after her parents lost a baby to cot death. Now she’s one of thousands of volunteers taking part in the Oxford University trial to find a vaccine that could put an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
* Not her real name
When Women Medical Workers Can Get PPE, They Find It’s Designed for Men
NHS professional bodies, experts and trade unions have warned that female healthcare workers’ lives are being put at risk because personal protective equipment is designed for men. As one frontline NHS worker put it: “PPE is designed for a 6 foot 3 inch bloke built like a rugby player.”
Dr Helen Fidler, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) UK consultants committee, said: “Women’s lives are absolutely being put at risk because of ill-fitting PPE. We know that properly fitted PPE works, but masks are designed for a male template, with the irony being that 75% of workers in the NHS are female.”
Caroline Criado-Perez, whose book Invisible Women addresses the issue of ill-fitting PPE for women in one of its chapters, said she has been inundated with messages from healthcare workers who could not find protective equipment to fit them.
“Respiratory protective equipment is designed for a male face, and if it doesn’t fit it won’t protect,” she said. “Because of a dearth of sex disaggregated data we don’t know how many women are affected, but I am hearing on a daily basis from women in the NHS who say they can’t get their masks to fit.”