September 2020


  1. ‘I’m home to find a job, not do that’: what research on unemployment teaches us about gender and job-searching
  2. Racism and COVID-19: The World’s Twin Pandemics
  3. Why children need to be taught more about their human rights

‘I’m home to find a job, not do that’: what research on unemployment teaches us about gender and job-searching


Women are more likely to have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Some may embrace the chance to devote themselves to their families, says Aliya Hamid Rao (LSE) – though unemployed men do not always feel the same obligation. But the evidence shows that those who quit jobs because of unpaid caregiving responsibilities have more difficulty getting back into the workforce.

Women (especially women of colour) have been more likely to lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When this happens, the effect appears to be to highlight their obligations as unpaid caregivers – not paid workers – within their families. Their subsequent unemployment may be yet another factor that erodes their participation in the workforce.

For my book Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment, I interviewed dozens of college-educated men and women who had lost their jobs. I also interviewed their spouses, conducted follow-up interviews, and observed some of these families to get a sense of how unemployment shapes the daily rhythm of their lives. How these affluent families respond to job loss is informative, because their social class typically sets hegemonic norms around gender – such as who in a family should participate in paid work, and for whom the domestic realm is the primary responsibility.

Families do not always acknowledge the importance of women’s income to their household. In heterosexual couples, families are reluctant to see women as breadwinners, even when they earn 80-100% of the household income. In the US, men typically continue to earn more in heterosexual families, though women contribute an increasing amount of income to their households.

I found that after losing their jobs, unemployed mothers found solace and comfort in the domestic realm. Doris*, an unemployed mother, said “I’m getting a lot of validation in being a mother; from the things my kids are achieving.” Their husbands also expected these unemployed mothers to focus on the home. Cheryl says that when she was employed, her husband “would take more turns doing things. He would help with the dinner, meals, or cleaning. Now that I’m not working, it’s not even the realm of even anything he’s thinking about.”

For mothers in my study, their days became organised around domestic chores, and job-searching took a backseat. Even though these mothers had done more unpaid work in the home even when employed, the time they spent on this increased when they lost their jobs. Grace says: “I’ve tried to comparison shop a little. Where before it was a time thing. I don’t have time to go from this supermarket to that supermarket seeing who has the best deal on ground meat or whatever… So now I have a little more time.” For these mothers, time on housework and childcare increased as they sought to save money through things like comparison shopping or pulling children out of day-care as their way of contributing to the household.

This was in stark contrast to unemployed men, who protected their time for job-searching. Once Robert lost his job, the organisation of his family, including time-use, did not change tremendously. Whereas earlier he had driven to his work, he now went down to his basement where his day was earmarked for job searching from 8.30am-4pm each day. Terry succinctly explained why he didn’t do more chores despite being unemployed while his wife worked: “I’m home to find a job, not do that.”

For the unemployed mothers in my study, job loss was often a respite from the extractive demands of work and the relentless expectations of the norm of “intensive mothering”, which is unforgiving towards mothers who participate in paid work. Doris, an unemployed mother, explained that since she had lost her job she had attended many more of her two sons’ extracurricular activities, such as sports matches, saying: “One of the things I felt was, ‘Oh good, I can go to these things’ … I have more time now. I don’t feel pulled. And I felt I could give more to my kids.” Even though Darlene had been the primary earner in her own family, and was also the primary caregiver for their son, Parker, she became even more involved in his educational and extra-curricular activities once she lost her job. Laughing, she said that while losing her job was difficult, she enjoyed having more time at home: “I felt really happy about it, ‘cause it’s like this is a taste of what it’s to be a stay-at-home mom.” Her husband, Larry similarly explained that Darlene could now, while unemployed, “be the kind of mom she wanted to be.”

For other mothers I spoke to, this idea of “staying at home” was comforting. They could embrace a culturally legitimate – and valued – identity rather than being “unemployed workers”, which carries more stigma. Yet when employers think someone has left the workforce for caregiving reasons, they are less likely to hire that person than someone who lost a job and was unemployed. The stigma against workers who have caregiving responsibilities is acute, since it seems to flout the ideal worker norm – the expectation that paid work should be the foremost priority.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed rampant gender inequalities. Mothers have borne the brunt of extra chores brought about by lockdowns in countries all over the world, such as home schooling. The burden on them has been such that even in the midst of a volatile economy, mothers have had to quit paid work in order to manage the caregiving that has fallen on them.

Women already encounter significant obstacles when it comes to participating in the workforce. At the cultural level, gender ideologies which require women to devote time, emotion, and energy to caring for their children above all else remain hegemonic. Structurally, too, most countries – and certainly those categorised as “liberal welfare states” such as the UK and the US – provide inadequate childcare. Research from before and during the pandemic shows that women’s job loss and unemployment – more prevalent now than ever – is becoming yet another factor that pushes women out of the workforce, out of economic self-sufficiency, and toward unpaid work in the domestic realm.

When childcare is not seen as a social good and instead falls on individuals, usually women, to manage by themselves, and employers discriminate against those with these obligations, getting a new job is a particularly challenging process for women.


To protect participants’ identities, all names are pseudonyms.


About the author

Aliya Hamid Rao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Methodology at the LSE. She studies work, family, and gender. Her book Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment was published in 2020.


Date                :               September 29, 2020

Source            :               LSE Blogs

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Racism and COVID-19: The World’s Twin Pandemics


The U.S. may be at the center of both pandemics, but — as worldwide demonstrations show — each is global.

The twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus are colliding, in reality and in metaphor.

Anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi writes in The Atlantic of “the racial pandemic within the viral pandemic.” And the meme of “America’s two deadly viruses” has gone viral on Twitter. But while one is a literal (and new) virus and the other an endemic condition that has persisted over centuries, the scope of each spans the range from local communities to the entire planet.

The footprint of these intersecting pandemics differs by geography and by the distribution of vulnerability along many lines of inequality. Actions of resistance also vary from place to place and over time. But there are, nonetheless, common threads in the global response, eloquently summed up in an online monologue by Trevor Noah, the South African comedian who has become one of the most incisive media commentators on American society.

His comments were entitled “George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice.”

“You know what’s really interesting about what’s happening in America rights now is that a lot of people don’t seem to realize how dominoes connect, how one piece knocks another piece that knocks another piece, and in the end creates a giant wave.

“Each story seems completely unrelated and yet at the same time I feel that everything that happens in the world connects to something else in some way, shape, or form.

“While everyone is facing the battle against coronavirus, Black people in America are still facing racism and coronavirus.”


In June 2020, the United States is an epicenter of both pandemics. The outcomes here will have deep effects not only on this country but around the world. Demonstrators in many countries are mobilizing in solidarity with the U.S.-based Black Lives Matter movement. On June 2, 105 African writers expressed this global solidarity in an open letter:

“As African writers without borders who are connected beyond geography with those who live in the United States of America and other parts of the African diaspora, we state that we condemn the acts of violence on Black people in the United States of America.”


The letter went on to cite the names of those killed most recently, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, followed by a long list of others; it also acknowledged the many unnamed. The writers added:

“We note in dismay that what Malcolm X said in Ghana in 1964 that ‘for the twenty million of us in America who are of African descent, it’s not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare’ remains true for 37 million in 2020.”


This global response is not only a matter of empathy, spurred by the explicit video of George Floyd’s murder, which was viewed worldwide. It is also a recognition that anti-Black racism is global, not confined to any one country. This racism shows itself in the treatment of Africans and Afro-descendants in a wide range of countries, even those without large Black populations, such as China. It is reflected in the position of the African continent in the global hierarchy, and in the racial hierarchy within the global institutions that make up the postwar order.

Around the world, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic within each country intersects with that country’s specific structural inequalities. In countries that are relatively homogeneous in racial terms, such as most African countries and many Asian countries, the most salient division may not be race. But in every country, sickness and death from the virus, as well as income losses and medical costs, have inflicted disproportionate suffering on the most vulnerable. Each society’s response in turn reveals the weaknesses or strengths of its governmental institutions.

A few countries across the political spectrum have managed the viral threat with relative success: Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Cuba, Norway, and Senegal. Among those that have failed most spectacularly are the United States and Brazil, two countries with vast racial and other social inequalities linked to a history of conquest and slavery. In the United States, the Trump administration has refused to respond constructively to the pandemic even as it undermines global institutions, such as the World Health Organization, that are attempting to do so.

But all countries face or soon will face the cumulative impact of global recession as well as the continued threat of a virus that is not going away any time soon. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for effective action to curb the coming apocalypse of climate change.

All of us — in local communities, popular organizations and movements, national governments, and multilateral institutions — must think deeply and imaginatively about the destructive institutions inherited from previous generations. Institutions at all levels must decide whether to fund state violence or public health and, more broadly, whether or not to curb private greed for public good. Corporations and governments must choose whether to destroy the planet with fossil fuels or speed a transition to renewable energy.

Returning to the previous status quo is not an option. We can increase the damage by resisting structural change, or we can move decisively toward new inclusive and sustainable societies.


By                :                 Imani Countess and William Minter

Date            :                  June 10, 2020

Source        :                   Foreign Policy in Focus

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Why children need to be taught more about their human rights


Many children have an innate sense of equality, fairness and justice and know how these concepts relate to their day-to-day lives. A lot of children also have the confidence to voice their opinions when they feel a lack of justice. But unfortunately, this is not always that case – especially for children whose personal rights are violated and who face mistreatment, often behind closed doors.

A recent report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner estimates that 2.3 million children in England are living with risk because of a vulnerable family background. This includes children in the care system and children known to have experienced personal harm as well as those living in families where there is a high likelihood of harm.

Worryingly, an estimated 829,000 of these children are not known to social services or to children’s mental health services so are not receiving any support. Added to this, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of domestic abuse have increased, meaning even more children may be living in homes where they are at risk of witnessing, or being on the receiving end of, violent behaviour.

Children need to know how to get help when they feel at risk. They also need to understand how rights apply to them and their lives – and while a limited amount of this is done in schools, it currently doesn’t go far enough.


Children’s rights

Children’s rights are a subset of human rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that all children worldwide should have access to and is one of the most widely adopted international treaties of all time.

In England, specific teaching about human rights is included in Relationships Education for primary age pupils and in Relationships and Sex Education for secondary age pupils. Both primary and secondary pupils also learn about human rights in Health Education and in Citizenship education.

As part of these subjects, in primary schools, aspects relating to rights education includes pupils learning to recognise if relationships make them feel unhappy, unsafe or uncomfortable. Pupils also learn how to report any concerns or abuse and where they can get help.

In secondary schools, pupils are taught about issues such as how to recognise when a relationship is unsafe, what constitutes sexual harassment and sexual violence and why these are unacceptable. They are also taught about legal rights and responsibilities regarding equality, online rights, as well as how to report and get advice if needed for themselves or others. Civil liberties enjoyed by the citizens of the UK are also looked at, as are the nature of rules and laws and the justice system.

These subjects include some important teaching about rights, but the focus is on factual information about rights and the help available. What’s lacking is teaching children specifically about children’s rights and how these rights apply to their own situations. More also needs to be done to empower children with the confidence to voice concerns in cases where their rights are not respected.


Rights Respecting Schools

Unicef UK has developed a Rights Respecting Schools Award. In working towards this award, schools use the Convention on the Rights of the Child to teach pupils about their rights and how these apply in terms of their own lives.

Around 5,000 schools are working through the Unicef award, which equates to about 1.6 million children becoming more aware of their rights. Research shows that children in schools working toward this award develop the confidence to disclose instances where their rights have been disrespected. And this has led to safeguarding issues being identified.

A senior manager in one of the primary schools explained the impact it has made:

We always get some disclosures when we talk about rights at the beginning of the year…the [children] feel empowered to tell someone and that is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this [the award].


But not all children attend schools where the award is on offer. And even when they do, insufficient emphasis is placed on ensuring all pupils are not only made aware of rights and how these apply to them, but have the skills and confidence to act and get help in cases where rights are not respected.


‘Know your rights’

Given that under lockdown many children may be spending longer periods of time with adults who may make them feel unsafe and have fewer opportunities to voice these concerns, the need for children’s rights education to be incorporated into all levels of schooling is urgent.

The focus needs to be not only on the transmission of knowledge and facts about children’s rights but, as asserted by the United Nations World Programme for Human Rights Education, it must also ensure children acquire the skills to apply their rights in a practical way in daily life. And this means teaching children how to take action to defend and promote their rights as and when needed.


By            :                    Carol Robinson (Professor of Children's Rights, Edge Hill University)

Date        :                     June 3, 2020

Source    :                     The Conversation

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