PRESS RELEASE: Half of mothers in Wales are struggling to make ends meet

Thursday March 25th, 2021

49% of mothers in Wales say they are struggling to make ends meet, in comparison to 38% of fathers, according to polling published today by Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales. This new research demonstrates that the government must do more to support women and girls as focus turns towards recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, it is essential that a diversity of women have a voice at the decision-making table.

The polling was carried out by Survation in Wales for WEN, and across the UK for five women’s organisations alongside WEN: Close the Gap, Engender, Fawcett Society, Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group, and  Women’s Budget Group. WEN Wales has today released a briefing on the Wales-specific results.

Research over the past year has shown that women have been hit hardest by the social and economic impacts of Covid-19 with Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority women, young women, women in low-income households, disabled women, single mothers, and those with caring responsibilities particularly badly affected.

Mental health toll

The research also shows the mental health toll the pandemic is taking on women in Wales, as women report they are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than men. When asked the question, ‘how anxious did you feel yesterday?’, 43% of women and 26% of men chose at least 6 out of 10 on a scale where 10 is ‘completely anxious’ and 0 is ‘not anxious at all’. We must see higher investment in mental health provisions for those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, from front-line staff to the general population.


Women in Wales were more likely to have lost their job due to a business closing down with 18% of women experiencing job loss for this reason compared to 11% of men. The data also showed that BAME people were twice as likely to have lost working hours compared to white people (48% of BAME people vs 23% of white people). Disabled people too faced greater levels of job loss than non-disabled people with 31% of disabled people losing working hours compared to 23% of non-disabled people.

Childcare responsibilities

When asked what their employer was likely to do if they were forced to take on extra childcare responsibilities; 23% of women and 11% of men said the most likely response would be that their employer would give them time off without any pay. This is an especially concerning response considering that women are still undertaking proportionately higher levels of childcare than men. At the time of the survey, 63% of women answered that they undertook most of the childcare compared to 17% of men.

The survey clearly shows that women, particularly BAME and disabled women, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and if steps are not taken urgently, many more will fall into poverty. Welsh Government must rebuild the economy with care, inclusivity, and women at its heart.

Catherine Fookes, Director of Women’s Equality Network Wales, said:

“One year on from the first Covid-19 lockdown there continues to be an urgent need to address the clear and growing inequalities exposed by the pandemic. Throughout the year, our research has shown that women, and in particular disabled women, BAME women, and women on lower incomes have all been impacted disproportionately by the pandemic and the policies enacted in response. We need to see a diversity of women in decision-making positions so that our political institutions reflect the society we live in and a wider breadth of experiences to address the needs of all women with targeted policies and funding.”

Recommendations for action in the Briefing include:

  • Job retention schemes and self-employment schemes that work for all – including single parents and part-time workers
  • Investment needs to provide jobs in a wide range of industries, not just favour heavily male-dominated industries like construction
  • Welsh Government must ensure that the Green Recovery is a Green AND Caring Recovery by investing in care
  • Welsh Government should put in place an Action Plan for Women in the Economy, as Canada has done
  • Gender stereotyping to be tackled in schools

Read the full briefing Pushed to More Precarity – Wales.

Notes on methodology

Our research is drawn from data collected by Survation between 18th November – 4th December 2020. The survey was conducted via an online panel. Invitations to complete surveys were sent out to members of online panels. The population sampled were parents in Wales with children aged 14 and under. The sample size was 613.

About us

This research was conducted by the UK Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group, Women’s Equality Network Wales, Close the Gap and Engender. This research was funded by Standard Life Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

Standard Life Foundation

The Foundation funds research, policy work and campaigning activities to tackle financial problems and improve living standards for people on low-to-middle incomes in the UK. It is an independent charitable foundation registered in Scotland.

Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust

Responding to the growing crisis of democracy and erosion of trust in the political class and institutions, JRRT’s priority area of work for both grant-making and external activities is democratic and political reform.