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Invisible Women - Great People & "Some" Nurses

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - Great People & "Some" Nurses
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #13 • View online
Well, GFPs, and how are you all feeling? It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me. For no particular reason…I suppose the lockdown has been starting to chafe. My mum, who has been working with MSF in Yemen, arrived back in the UK on the 12th of March, and I have been with her so I can do her shopping etc since she is in an at-risk group. So my lockdown has been going on since earlyish March.
I am, however, luckier than most since here I do at least have access to a garden. As I stare out at a green woodpecker hopping across the lawn, that feels like the difference between sanity and…well, not sanity. And – unpopular opinion coming up – I simply cannot understand how any council thinks shutting down any green space in a city is the right approach. To successfully socially isolate we need more space, not less. And to state the obvious, it is not possible to keep two metres apart on a pavement that is not two metres wide. I have several times been forced into the road, where cars are still merrily speeding along. Which is, again to state the obvious, extremely unsafe, and could easily result in the kind of accident that may require hospitalisation. Which is the last thing we need right now.
And let’s face it: this is not an equal opportunities issue. If you live in an urban area you are much less likely to have a garden. In London, having outside space is on the whole a reflection of how much money you have. Every human needs access to fresh air, sunlight, and, ideally, sight of trees. Depriving us of these basic needs will be storing up multiple health problems for the future – both mental and physical. But while some may feel that they personally can make this sacrifice for months on end and make up for it later (exercise indoors! open your windows!) there are those for whom for those for whom this deprivation is particularly acute.
Imagine you have two small children who don’t understand why they’re cooped up all day in a tiny basement flat with little natural light. Imagine you also have a partner who sees it as your job to keep them quiet and who may at any moment explode into a rage if you aren’t successful. That he might take his rage out on you, or the children. That he might get physical. As I wrote in last week’s newsletter, domestic violence rates have risen around the world, and now our over-stretched system is being hit by the same lockdown-driven increases: yesterday the BBC reported that domestic abuse calls are up 25%.
One woman, who fled her abuser a few days ago, told the BBC life had become intolerable since the lockdown started.
‘Tara’, who asked the BBC not to use her real name, said she had been suffering mental and physical abuse from her partner for six months.
When the lockdown began things became markedly worse.
To start with the abuse was subtle: “Isolating me from my family and friends… thinking I’m cheating on him when I’m with him all the time… just controlling”.
Her abuser deleted her social media accounts and stopped her from seeing family.
She says he was “mentally abusive, verbally and obviously hitting me… recently it’s obviously been getting worse, since the lockdown.”
“It’s been bad… I didn’t care if I didn’t wake up like from the night before… I just knew what was going to happen the next day, I just wanted the days to go past.”
“As soon as he gets up, he tries to cause an argument out of nothing, and if I fire back he’ll just hit me.”
Tara has now fled to a refuge in Wales, and is being supported by Llamau, a charity for young people and vulnerable women.
Now imagine you don’t even have an entire flat, tiny though it may be, but are instead relegated as a family to a single room, which may be infested with bugs and damp. Where you may be sharing a bathroom with multiple other families. Where there is no privacy and social distancing is a pipe-dream. And where there is certainly no room to “exercise indoors”. The least these families need is an hour a day when their children can run around and let off steam in a green space.
One brighter note to end on: some countries have been a bit more sensible than the UK about the need to enable social distancing in the street. In Canada, the city of Calgary is experimenting with road closures to give pedestrians a more realistic chance of socially distancing when they go out either to the shops or to exercise. New Zealand has launched a $7m (£3.3m; $4.1m USD) pilot fund to help councils reallocate road space and make safe travel easier during the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Berlin bureau chief shared a picture on twitter of widened social-distance-friendly cycle lanes.
The tiny amount of space reserved for pedestrians and cyclists on our roads is not only important during a pandemic. Readers of Invisible Women may remember that women are generally less likely to be satisfied with pavements than men – perhaps reflecting that in normal circumstances, women are more likely than men to be walking, and dominate the numbers of those navigating a narrow pavement (made narrower by badly placed street furniture) with a pram.
Some cities were ahead of the curve:
Valuing cars over pedestrians is not inevitable. In Vienna 60% of all journeys are made on foot, in no small part because the city takes gender planning seriously. Since the 1990s Vienna’s head of gender planning, Eva Kail, has been collecting data on pedestrian travel and has installed the following improvements: improved and signed crossing locations (plus forty additional crossings); retrofit- ted steps with ramps for prams and bikes; widened 1,000 metres of pavement; and increased pedestrian street lighting.27
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has shown similar deter- mination to give her city back to pedestrians, creating what are called superilles or ‘superblocks’ – squared-off sections of the city with low speed limits open only to local traffic, with roads where pedestrians have equal priority with cars.  
Let’s hope that the cities currently playing corona-catch-up will let these pro-pedestrian designs stick. A possible silver lining. Oh, and, no, I wouldn’t have known it was a green woodpecker before lockdown. I can now also tell you what a blue tit looks like. More on this story as we get it*.
*since writing this I have also learned to identify a pied wagtail.

Gender Data Gap of the Week
Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺
Matt Hancock - 4 Doctors have died & some nurses

Donna Kinnair(Royal College of Nursing) - They're not even counting the nurses, Matt...

#bbcqt #COVIDー19
89% of nurses in the UK are female. This is before we get onto healthcare assistants, cleaning staff, laundry staff, care workers. All are female-dominated occupations. And despite their similar (and not infrequently higher) levels of exposure as doctors and nurses, they are on minimum wage and won’t always have access to the same levels of PPE (which are inadequate as it is for doctors and nurses themselves) Are we counting the deaths here?
By the way, four nurses have died so far from Covid-19. Their names are Liz Glanister, Areema Nasreen, Aimee O’Rourke and John Alagos.
Gender Data Gap Mk II
Since writing that, a new gender data gap has come to my attention, and it’s a shocker: the UK’s official NHS survey on coronavirus IS NOT COLLECTING DATA ON SEX.
This is appalling. If the sex disparity in deaths of this disease has taught us anything it is surely that we need sex-disaggregated data. And if you don’t believe me, how about Global Health 50/50, “an independent, evidence-driven initiative to advance action and accountability for gender equality in global health housed at The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health”. From their page on Covid-19:
At this point in the pandemic, we are unable to provide a clear answer to the question of the extent to which sex and gender are influencing the health outcomes of people diagnosed with COVID-19. However, experience and evidence thus far tell us that both sex and gender are important drivers of risk and response to infection and disease. 
In order to understand the role gender is playing in the COVID-19 outbreak, countries urgently need to begin both collecting and publicly reporting sex-disaggregated data. At a minimum, this should include the number of cases and deaths in men and women.
This initiative is tracking the data from countries around the world that are releasing data and presenting them in a colour-coded table: green for sex-disaggregated data on cases and deaths, yellow for sex-disaggregated data on deaths, and red for no sex-disaggregated data at all.
While yellow data is better than no sexed data at all, what you would ideally like to see is a fully green table. Why? Because knowing the sex distribution of cases and being able to compare that with the sex distribution of deaths could be an important indicator in the extent to which the disparity is gender versus sex driven. ie, are men more likely to *catch* coronavirus (because they are less likely to wash their hands), or are they catching it about equally with women and therefore more likely to die from it once they have it (possibly because of women’s more active immune systems about which we know far less than men’s because bitches be crazy and no one has time for that woo-woo shit)?
Of course sex and gender can affect both propensity to catch it and propensity to die from it (eg smoking could be contributing to higher deaths for men irrespective of infection rates, and that is a gender rather than a sex issue), but having data on both enables us to focus our research more effectively. In short, this matters. A lot.
As you can see, the UK and US are both showering themselves with glory in the red zone and this is such an easily avoidable misstep. And in fact Global Health 5050 raised this issue with the Department for Health and Social Care on the 19th March and has *still* not received a response.
If you live in the UK PLEASE take a second to email your MP, and ask them to raise this issue as a matter of urgency. You can very easily email your MP here – just enter your postcode and the website will do the rest. And to make it even easier for you, I am including an email template below:
Email subject: URGENT: UK not collecting sex-disaggregated data on Covid-19
Dear [your MP’s name].
It has come to my attention that the official NHS coronavirus survey ( is not collecting data on sex. This is a crucial data point, particularly since we know women are more likely to be exposed, while men seem to be more likely to die. Please call on the Secretary of State for Health to address this gap as a matter of urgency, and add a question on sex to the official NHS coronavirus tracker.
Thank you in advance for your help on this matter.
[your name]
Alternatively (or additionally!) here is a sample tweet you could send:
Hi @MattHancock & @DHSCgovuk the NHS #COVID19 status checker is not collecting sex-disaggregated data. Sex is a crucial data point and the UK is one of a minority of countries not collecting any data on sex. Please address this data gap as a matter of urgency.
If you’re being REALLY fancy you could even add the above screengrab of the Global Health 50/50 table to your tweet – tweets with pictures get more attention :)
The New York Times covered the US’s failure to systematically collect sex-disaggregated data in this excellent piece by their gender reporter Alisha Haridasani Gupta.
Default Male of the Week
A bit of light relief now….or maybe not.
As you may have noticed from last week’s newsletter, the Beefcake has been busily occupying himself with computer games. His latest jam is Civilisation V. In this game, players build up a civilisation from prehistory to 2050. The decisions they make (eg to promote war or culture) determine whether or not their civilisation will thrive. A few days ago he proudly showed me his laptop screen: his civilisation had birthed a Great Person!
Erm…I inevitably pointed out, that is a man. Are there any women included as people in this game? The Beefcake investigated.
No, no women here
No, no women here
No women here, either
No women here, either
Pretty sure that's not a woman...
Pretty sure that's not a woman...
...and indeed he is not.
...and indeed he is not.
So anyway that’s a no then.
Selected Links
  • TOMORROW FROM 18:30, join me; Sam Smethers, CEO of the Fawcett Society; Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters; and Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of UK Women’s Budget Group as we discuss the exclusion of women from the response to this crisis, and why it matters.
  • And sign-up to this forthcoming newsletter from the Women’s Budget Group (which as many of you will know is my number one top favourite NGO, I made use of so much of their work when I was writing Invisible Women). It promises to be a BANGER.
  • Talking of BANGERS, if you were a teenage girl in the nineties, this will BREAK YOU. You can thank me later.
Civic Duty of the Week
I read a thing saying it was the civic duty of dog owners to post dog pics during lockdown. So this section, formerly known as Poppy Pic of the Week has been renamed. And here is my Civic Duty:
It's EXHAUSTING being this cute
It's EXHAUSTING being this cute
That’s it! I love hearing what you think of the newsletter, so please do get in touch (unless you don’t like it in which case keep your incorrect opinions to yourself :D)
Until next time, my most excellent GFPs. Stay safe xoxoxo
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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