We are celebrating women carers
There is an unspoken expectation that people will look after relatives, regardless of the personal impact of caring on them and/or the person that they care for.
Our research shows that most people do not choose to be a carer and often take on the role because they feel they should or there is no one else to do so. Women are particularly affected by this assumption and are over-represented among unpaid carers. Up to 58% of unpaid carers in the UK are women, and in 2019, of the 1.25 million ‘sandwich carers’ in the UK who care for an older relative while also bringing up a family, 68% were women.
This year on International Women’s Day we are called to “Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
We support this global priority and as an organisation, we choose to challenge the perceptions about family members and friends caring for someone with dementia and the services and support that they receive.
According to the Carers UK “State of Caring 2021” report, caring is still often thought of as being part and parcel of women’s lives, and women are still most likely to be providing care and most likely to be providing more hours of care. Between 60 and 70 percent of dementia carers in the UK are women, often entirely unpaid. We also know that women have disproportionately borne the challenges of the pandemic.
The “State of Caring 2021” report says that providing support for carers, especially those looking to stay in or return to paid work, is essential if women are to be able to participate fully in the economy and live a life free from poverty in older age.
Women are more likely to have to take on caring responsibilities at an earlier age, often at a time that they would expect to be in paid work. They may also have taken time out to look after children. This is turn can affect their participation in paid work and reduces their lifetime earnings and pensions, factors in why women are more likely than men to experience low income in later life, including after their caring role has ended.
A report on women and dementia commissioned by Alzheimer’s Disease International, speculated that the assumption in most societies that caring is a woman’s role is the reason that governments don’t prioritise policy to support carers.
Let’s shed light on the impact of caring on women and call an end to gender inequality associated with the role. How? By calling for:
- The proposed social care reforms to fully meet the specific needs of women who are carers of people with dementia
- Carers Allowance to be levelled up to comparable benefits and for paid carers to have leave of up to ten days a year
- Women caring for someone with dementia to have greater access to support and information in their caring role from organisations like ours
- Families, communities, wider society and policy makers to recognise that caring for a family member with dementia is a supportive activity that should be celebrated as a massive contribution to our society and should be rewarded accordingly
So on this International Women’s Day we are supporting the call to help to build a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive and celebrating women as carers.