OPINION - Childcare should be the big issue at the next election: it has held women back for too long

·3-min read
 (Daniel Hambury/@stellapicsltd)
(Daniel Hambury/@stellapicsltd)

We all knew someone who had an emergency childcare situation during the pandemic. As an aunty, and the eldest in my family, I have always been used to helping out (sometimes between revision sessions) and I partly revived that role during Covid.

What the pandemic did is highlight something that women’s rights organisations and groups have been saying for years — women have always stepped in and helped out, but that is often to the detriment of their careers and to the wider economy. And over the past 18 months or so, the extent of this became very stark indeed.

I can’t believe I need to spell this out but access to affordable child care is as much an economic issue as it is a social one. Childcare is essential social infrastructure, comparable with healthcare and education, and if this government is truly committed to levelling up, it needs to take it very seriously.

Just as roads and housing support economic growth, so too does child care. And it does so in three ways: by providing jobs for workers as carers and early years teachers; enabling parents, particularly mothers, to go to work and reach their full economic potential; and creating a generation of engaged young learners who will be the next group of workers.

Some countries like Canada are getting it right by investing in childcare. Indeed, this was a vote winner for Justin Trudeau. The UK needs to take a leaf out of their book and understandthat at the next election, issues impacting families and especially women will need to be at the centre of manifestos.

From the menopause to childcare, the concerns of women will have to be addressed and budgeted for. I sense the Education Secretary, who has previously held the early years brief, understands this and I have faith that we might soon have a system that delivers for women and families.

In other news...

Virgil Abloh, the first black artistic director of Louis Vuitton, passed away on Sunday at the age of 41 from cancer

That loss was felt not just by the fashion world, but across generations of young black people who are out here leading socially conscious causes. Virgil was known for his support for black-owned business and especially black women. He was a man who left an important legacy and not only made street-wear high fashion but also ensured those who created it were recognised and paid.

Let us remember him by supporting the next generation of young black creatives who will move fashion, television and the world to the next level.

Is 2021 the comeback year for our Noughties queens?

Let’s take an audit. Lindsay Lohan is engaged, Paris Hilton is married, Britney is free and Kim Kardashian is speed dating again.

I might not revive my Noughties fashion sense — and I would not advise any of you to do so either — but I do believe we all need to hang with our girl gangs again, hit the town and find someone to snog.

Lockdown has hit Noughties ladies particularly hard. We have lost some quality dating and partying time. What better than to follow the lead of our former icons and love like its 2004 again.

What do you think should be done to improve access to child care? Let us know in the comments below.

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