Women’s Resource Centre report: The covid-19 crisis and the women’s sector, one year on

This is a follow-up report to a survey published in June 2020.

The first survey sought to find out the impact of COVID-19 on women’s organisations – their sustainability, the impact on the services they deliver, their staff, and service-users. Women’s organisations were finding their way through the first national lockdown and the picture emerging of a sector that was worried on all fronts: funding and organisational survival; the ability to continue to support their service-users; adapting to new ways
of working and new systems; and ensuring staff wellbeing.

One year on, key areas of concern include increased demand and an ever-growing number of complex cases, funding, staff well-being and women’s mental health.

Key recommendations include:

For UK government:

• Act swiftly and decisively on all the data that has come out about the disproportionate
impact of the pandemic on women. Women and the most disadvantaged should be put at
the heart of any economic recovery programme.
• Longer-term funding to meet increased demand in mental health, violence against women
and girls (VAWG) and other women’s services.
• Ring-fenced funding for Black and minoritised women’s organisations, disabled women-led
organisations and those working with asylum seekers.
• Increase local authority funding so that they can more easily meet their statutory duties e.g.
women escaping violence with no recourse to public funds.
• An incorporation of CEDAW into domestic law as recommended by the CEDAW Committee.
• Tackle structural issues through policy decisions (e.g. women’s labour market disadvantage
by extending free and heavily subsidised childcare; scrapping the no recourse to public funds
rule for women escaping violent partners; allowing asylum seekers to work to enable
financial independence for women; extending legal aid to enable marginalised women to
challenge discriminatory practices).

For funders:

• 92% of organisations reported that they had been listened and responded to ‘partly’ or ‘very
well’ by funders.27 Most organisations got some level of flexibility on most areas of their
project funding.28 However, there are some issues that funders can take forward:
• Organisations need a longer-term settlement, both in term of what is prioritised (e.g.
structural inequality, mental health) and funded.
• A longer-term funding approach would entail more funds for core costs and lengthier
timeframes so that organisations can plan better for the future – for their organisation, staff,
and the women and girls they support.
• Organisations also mentioned the requirement for more flexibility from funders around
spending, diverting funds within projects, deadlines and monitoring and evaluation.

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