Lieutenant Governor Gray marks International Women’s Day with a focus on pandemic
MONTPELIER, Vermont (WFFF) – International Women’s Day recognizes the achievements of women – socially, culturally and politically.
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray – the fourth woman in Vermont history to hold the state’s second highest office – took the opportunity to talk about the impact of the pandemic on women.
“Today it seemed really important to me to also recognize a lot of what we need to do here in the state to close the gap for women,” Gray said.
In November, 73% of unemployment claims were filed by women in Vermont.
“This is the highest percentage of applications filed by women in any state in the country,” Gray said.
Gray was joined by more than 130 community leaders and four panelists, including Cary Brown, executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women.
Brown says the pandemic does not cause a typical economic recession.
“We would see jobs more often held by men, like construction and manufacturing. These are the ones who are traditionally injured. But in this pandemic, it’s the jobs of women that are being lost, ”said Brown.
According to Brown, jobs in retail, restaurant and direct utilities are particularly affected during the crisis.
“The pandemic has really worsened the situation with the closing of daycares and the closing of schools. Mothers cut their working hours by 50% more than fathers when the pandemic hit, so it’s not something that affected parents in the same way, ”said Brown.
Cary Brown adds that the pandemic has reduced women’s working hours by almost 4 to 5 times more than men’s, leading to other hardships, namely food insecurity.
“Thus, before COVID-19, one in 10 Vermonters suffered from food insecurity. Today that’s one in three Vermonters, 33% of Vermonters are food insecure, ”said Brown.
Xusana Davis, director of racial equity for Vermont, discussed the wage gap between women and women of color.
“Women at all levels are working through 2021 to catch up with what a man did in calendar year 2020. So, for example, equal pay day for all women in America is March 24, ”Davis said.
This means that women have to work three to four months more to earn as much as their male counterparts. But Davis points out that not all women are.
“Equal pay for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans is March 9. Equal Pay Day for Black Women in America is August 3. Equal Pay Day for Indigenous Women in America is September 8. And finally, Equal Pay Day for Latin Women in America is October 21, ”Davis said.
Davis explained that she would have to work until the end of October to earn the same amount as her male colleague, even if they started working the same day.
Davis also spoke about how the wage gap is exacerbating the housing crisis.
“Of course, that also translates into the availability and affordability of housing. Because after all, how can you get a home loan when your credit history and income history has been marked by being underrepresented and underpaid in the workforce, ”Davis said.
Another panelist was Jessica Nordhaus, director of Change the Story VT. Her organization partnered with UMass Amherst to conduct a survey of more than 500 Vermonters to discuss the gender impacts of COVID-19. These data will be available in the coming weeks.
The fourth panelist was Meg Smith, director of the Vermont Women’s Fund, who says the state must prioritize child care to make it more affordable and available to working families.
The Gray’s Seat at the Table event comes as the country adopted a $ 1.9 trillion relief package to help working families and provide more funding at all levels.
“We have a moment to really think strategically, not only about how we’re going to get the money out with this next amount of funding, but also how we’re going to recover stronger,” Gray said.