Social entrepreneurs challenging gender inequality in the workforce

At UnLtd, we are reflecting on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women in work. Dishearteningly, we know that the effects of lockdown measures on women in work will have a lasting impact on the gender pay gap and female employment rate. That also means social entrepreneurs focusing on improving access to employment for women will be even more needed for an inclusive recovery from the pandemic.

In the first lockdown in the UK, women took on two-thirds more childcare duties than men, according to the Office of National Statistics. At the same time, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is reporting that mothers are 47% more likely than fathers to have lost or quit their job since the lockdown began. Although data on the impact of COVID-19 is still emerging, it is clear that the pandemic has exacerbated existing systemic barriers to work faced by women.

Supporting women to navigate society's gender-specific expectations, while finding a path to sustainable employment is the goal of many of our social entrepreneurs.

Some are helping women to re-enter the workforce after having children; some are improving representation of women in male-dominated sectors; others are doing both at the same time.

According to recommendations from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, these social ventures exemplify the type of initiatives the Government needs to invest in if it is to ensure that women do not "lose out in the recovery" from the pandemic.

Often leading with lived experience of the systemic barriers women face, these social entrepreneurs are shaping the future by helping to transform female representation and success in the workforce. With the data suggesting COVID-19 is turning back the clock on gender equality, it is vital that we recognise the ventures that are challenging the status quo and taking us forwards.

Please take some time to be inspired by their work and consider supporting them.

Fatou Gassama, Holistic Support

  • A social enterprise committed to promoting parents' well-being and inspiring them to achieve their professional goals, such as returning to or finding work, building confidence, or upskilling.

Anne-Marie, Stemettes

  • Stemettes are inspiring the next generation of women and nonbinary people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields. They use cohort programmes, impactful events and inspirational content platforms to demonstrate the diverse people already in STEM.

Angela Steele, Opportunities with Experience

  • A training organisation creating work opportunities for women in the construction industry. This venture is tackling the fact that only 15% of jobs in construction are held by women. (House of Commons)

Jasmin Hassan Bakhre, Women with Wings

  • A social venture helping women to take their first steps towards training, employment or self-employment; the organisation provides a space where individuals can learn new skills, gain qualifications and start their own business.

Siobhan Harper-Nunes, Shakti Women

  • A social venture providing personal, professional and business development services for women, in a space for women to re-focus on their own needs. Shakti offers a holistic service to give clients the professional and personal knowledge and skills to support all women to achieve their full potential.
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