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International Women’s Day 2021

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
8 March 2021

Good morning,

And happy International Women’s Day! This week, our content will celebrate the extraordinary acts of courage and contribution made by ordinary women across the globe and consider the state of women’s rights globally.

Back in November, I wrote about the hidden costs of the rapid reversal in economic gender equality, as a growing number of women reported taking pay cuts and going into debt since the start of the pandemic. A few days ago, new analysis by PwC confirmed the bleak news, concluding that to undo the pandemic’s damage to the position of women in the workplace by 2030, we will need to redouble our efforts towards gender equality.

As is often the case in times of crisis, some innovative solutions have also emerged, and the shift towards remote working is one such example of a positive development for working mothers. While in 2015, one-in-five working mothers reported that they were forced to leave their job because a request for flexible working arrangements had been turned down by an employer, the pandemic has granted many working mothers the workplace latitude that they have long been campaigning for.

Clearly there is still a long way to go. It is not exactly a revelation that domestic and care work have placed disproportionate burdens on women. Add the often-overlooked aspect of emotional labour that comes along with childcare and you get a clear sense of why advocates for women’s rights are calling for  workplaces that work better for people with caregiving responsibilities.

In many ways, women – and especially working mothers – have been the invisible frontline workers of Covid-19. This calls for widespread recognition and positive action today, tomorrow and every other day of the year.

In celebrating International Women’s Day, this week all our content at Charlotte Street Partners will have a female focus and we will explore this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge in our View from the Street blog. If you would like to receive this, please email info@charlottestreetpartners.co.uk.

News

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman who was jailed in Iran accused of spying, has been released from house arrest but will have to go to court to face another set of charges next week, according to her lawyer. The new charges mean that despite being released, she is unlikely to be allowed to return to the UK. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s continued confinement “remains totally unacceptable” and that “she must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.”
 
The prime minister has defended proposals to give most NHS staff in England a one per cent pay rise amid growing concerns that “undervalued” nurses could quit. This comes after the Department of Health and Social Care came under mounting pressure to reconsider its pay proposal last week, when it officially recommended the one per cent rise to the panel that advises the government on NHS salaries.
 
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey has aired in the US, with the Duchess reporting that she found life within the royal family so difficult that at times she had suicidal thoughts. According to the Duchess, a low point was when the family raised “concerns” over their son’s skin colour before he was born.

Business and economy

Leading figures from the hospitality, social care, construction and manufacturing sectors have raised concerns that a lack of overseas workers after the pandemic will stall economic recovery. This comes a few days after the issue was raised by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which warned that the future population may be “substantially smaller” than official estimates suggest. (£)
 
President Biden is close to securing final approval from the US Congress for his $1.9tn stimulus bill after the Senate voted to approve the package on Saturday. The House of Representatives is expected to give a green light to the bill tomorrow, allowing it to be signed into law by Biden.
 
Household and business confidence has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, raising hopes that the economy is poised for a robust recovery if and when restrictions are largely lifted in the summer. According to an index compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and YouGov, consumer confidence reached its highest level since February last year. (£)

Columns of note

In the FT, Emma Jacobs calls into question the prevailing argument that workers under the age of 25 lose more in remote work settings than they gain. Instead of relying too much on returning to the office to resolve the issues young workers are currently facing, she suggests that we should start thinking creatively about how to compensate for the informal learning that they lose while working remotely and find novel ways to build social capital virtually. (£)
 
In The New Yorker, Dhruv Khullar sheds light on how new Covid-19 variants emerge and spread, and argues that while these are a worrying development, we can still be optimistic that the pandemic will end soon, one vaccination at a time.

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

The week ahead

The UK is set to release January’s growth figures on Friday, which are expected to point to a sharp contraction at the start of the year as the country returned to national lockdown.
 
In the US, President Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus package stimulus package will move to a vote in the House on Tuesday. The stimulus package is set to give a boost to the economic recovery, but optimism has been offset by fears over rising inflation and interest rates. 
 
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank will meet on Thursday, with policymakers assessing the damage to economic growth against a background of a vaccination rollout that is struggling to gain traction.
 
Full year announcements are due from UK firms Legal & General, Tullow Oil, Rolls-Royce, Morrisons, and IP Group this week, with US earnings season almost entirely at an end.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Clarkson
Direct Line
Diversified Gas
Emis
Network Intl
RNI Magnesite
Shoe Zone

AGMs
Jlen Env.

Interims
Abcam
Pci-pal

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(15:00) Wholesales Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Nearly 82 million women around the world don’t have any legal protection against discrimination in the workplace (Source: World Policy Analysis Centre).

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Work and Pensions (including topical questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Housing and Homelessness (Local Accommodation Duty)
 
Debate
Continuation of the Budget debate
 
Adjournment
Flooding caused by disused mineworks in

House of Lords 

Introduction(s)
Lord Udny-Lister
 
Oral questions
Increasing the take up of Pension Credit
 
Oral questions
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on provision for teenagers in the care system
 
Oral questions
Report by the TUC ‘Working mums: Paying the price’
 
Oral questions
Increasing the number of women holding elected office in the UK
 
Private Notice Question
To ask the government what representations they are making to the government of Hong Kong regarding the mass arrests of leaders of the Hong Kong democracy movement
 
Legislation
Domestic Abuse Bill – report stage (day 1)

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled

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