I don’t need to tell you how incredibly frustrating it is to see politicians stoop to in-group signalling at a time like this. “I,” signals Truss, “am a sensible woman. I don’t have time for this lefty nonsense about gender.”
But this isn’t nonsense, lefty or otherwise. This isn’t a political theory. This is about the material reality of female bodies, how they are generally shaped differently to male bodies, and how Personal Protective Equipment has generally been designed to fit men.
This has got nothing to do with which political wing you belong to (as indeed, several of her colleagues, notably Nadine Dorries
and Amber Rudd
, could tell her. This is about protecting the people who are on the frontlines protecting us. These brave women and men are putting themselves at risk to save our lives. It’s as stark as that.
And they are not super-human. They are just ordinary people. They are scared. They are tired. But they are carrying on doing their jobs, because that is what they have to do. And they deserve better than politicians turning their safety into a culture war.
So with that in mind, GFPs, I’m afraid it’s time for another letter-writing campaign.
to send an email to your MP. I am again including below a template text for you to send so it’s super-easy, but please feel free to write your own.
Dear [your MP’s name],
I am writing to you about the issue of Personal Protective Equipment and female healthcare workers. As you will be aware, the NHS is a female dominated workforce: 89% of nurses and 77% of NHS staff overall are female. 84% of carers are female. These frontline staff need to have access to PPE that fits them. But there are a growing number of alarming reports from these staff that not only is there a shortage of PPE overall, but the PPE that does
exist doesn’t fit them properly
, because it has generally been designed to fit an average male body
This is not a new issue. In 2017, a TUC report
on women and PPE revealed the following:
- 71% of women wear PPE that has not been designed for female bodies
- 57% of women found that their PPE hampered their ability to do carry out their work
- The situation was worst in the emergency services where only 5% of women said their PPE never hampered their work
The report stated that these statistics were not surprising because “most PPE is based on the sizes and characteristics of male populations from certain countries in Europe and the United States. As a result, most women, and also many men, experience problems finding suitable and comfortable PPE because they do not conform to this standard male worker model. For instance, the use of a ‘standard’ US male face shape in the manufacture of RPE [respiratory protective equipment] means that it does not fit most women as well as a lot of men from black and minority ethnic groups”.
As you will know, the data so far suggests that the severity with which Covid-19 hits can be linked to the viral load to which the sufferer is exposed to when they are infected. This makes it absolutely crucial that our health-workers have access to PPE that fits them properly.
Please will you raise this issue with the Health Secretary and also with the Minister for Women and Equalities?
Thank you very much,
GET SENDING. It really makes a difference – so many of you were kind enough to get back to me with the response you got from your MP about collecting sex-disaggregated data, and the vast majority of them said that they would raise it and keep on it. So that link again: https://www.writetothem.com/