Nearly a year ago, our world changed drastically. The structures that dictate our everyday lives—family, school, work, friendships, even trips to the grocery store—were re-written by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the shock to these systems was felt by everyone, women—and predominantly women of color—have absorbed a disproportionate share of this shock.
Women dominate both the jobs most vulnerable to coronavirus-related closures and the jobs at the frontlines of the pandemic—all while bearing an outsized care burden at home. Between January and December 2020, nearly 2.1 million women left the labor force, including 564,000 Black women and 317,000 Latinas. This development, while exacerbated by the pandemic, is emblematic of already existing inequities fueled by sexism, racism, antiquated workplace standards, the lack of a robust social safety net, and an undervalued and underfunded care economy.
Women and families need bold, structural policies that prioritize their economic security. As an organization whose mission is to improve the economic status of women and remove barriers to economic equity, WE are committed to ensuring an equitable recovery that centers Black and brown women.
Earlier this month, WE convened with leaders from Chicago Cook Workforce Alliance, Chicago Foundation for Women, The Chicago Network, and Mission Propelle—four Chicago organizations working in different arenas to put women on sound economic footing—for a virtual panel event, Rising Above the Shecession: Concrete Steps to Ensure Women Emerge Stronger. The event was moderated by Heidi Stevens from the Chicago Tribune. Our conversation was rooted in what needs to be done to ensure women—and especially women of color—can not only recover, but emerge from this “shecession” stronger than before. 

If you missed this important conversation, you can watch and share the recording!