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Action needed to help women's enterprise and avoid economic 'catastrophe': Women's Enterprise Policy Group report

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Women has said their work and businesses suffered in lockdown in particular due to a lack of childcare provision

Women has said their work and businesses suffered in lockdown in particular due to a lack of childcare provision

Women has said their work and businesses suffered in lockdown in particular due to a lack of childcare provision

Women need immediate action to prevent a "catastrophic" social and economic end to the year as they face bearing the brunt of job losses and business closures, it's been claimed.

The Women's Enterprise Policy Group, a coalition of entrepreneurs, researches and business support providers, has released a report calling for action to address gaps in government Covid-19 enterprise support for females.

Women has said their work and businesses suffered in lockdown in particular due to a lack of childcare provision.

The Equality Commission, Women in Business and economists have warn that during the crisis, a lack of childcare for the children of working mothers has increased the risk of pushing society back to the 1950s.

Research into the effects of lockdown by Queen's University's School of Psychology has also pointed to women facing "burnout" while they faced juggling working from home with home-schooling, childcare and caring for vulnerable relatives.

Roseann Kelly, chief executive of Women in Business (WIB) and the WEPG representative in Northern Ireland, said: "I am delighted to be part of WEPG and support the launch of this report which offers valuable insights and outlines how current policies have failed to reflect the extra challenges that female entrepreneurs and business women face - including childcare responsibilities, gender bias and access to finance - and how the Government has failed to introduce measures to facilitate their survival and growth."

She added:"I am urging the NI Executive to acknowledge women's valuable contribution and to give female enterprise a place at the table now before it is too late - this is not just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do."

Professor Julia Rouse, co-chair of the WEPG and professor of entrepreneurship at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "As our report shows, women running businesses have faced acute pressures during Covid-19.

"We know that women tend to trade in sectors that do more face-to-face work - for example, as carers, in hospitality and tourism or as beauticians - and that means their trade is only coming back slowly and is vulnerable to local lockdowns.

"Add to this school and nursery closures, and the threat of 'bubbles' and consequently support networks bursting when these re-open fully, and you can see the scale of the challenge."

The group has identified areas which would benefit from government to improve women's enterprise, including finance, income protection and business support.


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