Photo courtesy of Chelsi Peter
In the midst of a global health crisis, everyone is feeling the strain. With unemployment at its highest rate since the Great Depression (setting records each week), children at home due to school closures, and state-wide mandates to stay at home, everyone has their life restricted in some way. If you are able to maintain employment while working remotely from the safety of your home, you are fortunate—only about 29 percent of workers in the U.S. are able to do so. Luckily, even though we’re staying at home, we can still find ways to meaningfully connect with other people—and support women in particular.
Many women are experiencing this crisis in a huge and personal way—from escalating child care responsibilities, to no longer having jobs—and women at the intersection of various types of societal oppression—including racism and xenophobia—are feeling this burden extra hard right now. From a simple click to a longer commitment of time and resources, here are ways you can connect to and support other women right now.
Reach out to a parent-friend and see if they’d like to schedule a time to spend screen-time with their child. Perhaps you could read a book over video chat, or put on an impromptu puppet show, or even work on homework together. Although video-babysitting is not a substitute for adult supervision, it can help give the parent a break while keeping the child stimulated.
2. Pay your housekeeping staff
Although you may have the ability to work from home, there are many people across the country doing types of work that cannot be done remotely—including housekeeping and other home staff. If you hire someone to work in your house, whether that’s infrequent cleanings or more regular upkeep, and you are still financially able, continue to pay them for their scheduled work during this period of time while you engage in social distancing. Over 90 percent of in-home workers are women and, in addition, the majority are immigrants—a status that often creates additional vulnerability. Now is the time to support your fellow women by continuing to pay all staff who typically would come into your house to work. You can sign a pledge to continue paying domestic workers here.
3. Tip your favorite restaurant workers
While many restaurants are closing their doors for the indefinite future, an unprecedented number of service industry workers have lost their source of income. Fortunately, many restaurants now have set up online fundraisers to support staff or even “tip” them. Check the social media accounts of your favorite restaurants that have closed and see if any have shared a fundraiser link, then donate the amount of a meal out at that restaurant, or another amount that feels right for you. Alternatively, you can be connected to tipping a service industry worker in your city directly here.
4. Sew masks for frontline workers
If you can sew, and have a sewing machine available during the stay-at-home orders, one way to help is by sewing fabric masks to send to health care workers who have specifically requested them. WeNeedMasks.org has instructions for sewing and sending masks to health care facilities. A vast majority—over 75 percent of health care workers—are women. Simply sewing and sending masks is a huge way of supporting the workers who are on the front lines.
5. Attend (and pay for) online events
During a time where most people whose income depends on face-to-face interaction are struggling financially, there’s a way you can support your favorite performers, teachers, and artists. Many yoga teachers, for example, are offering online classes for a fee, musicians are live-streaming shows from home, and artists are even offering paint-and-sip classes. Do some searching online—or reach out to them directly—to see if your favorite IRL instructors are hosting any offerings online. Either way, chances are they have set up a GoFundMe or Patreon page, or even a personal Venmo they are accepting contributions through. Donating the cost of a yoga class to an instructor who isn’t able to work or tipping a favorite musician who you wish you could see live is a small gesture that can make a big difference.
6. Connect to local mutual aid efforts
If you are able to leave your home to buy groceries, you might be able to provide assistance to a neighbor without realizing it. Most urban areas (and many suburban and rural areas) have community-created mutual aid networks, where neighbors help one another meet their immediate needs. Ask friends or search on Facebook for local networks you can plug into. There is a range of support you can provide, from buying and delivering a neighbor’s groceries, cooking meals to be shared with people who can’t leave their homes, or simply donating funds to support people already doing the work. These types of community-focused projects are non-hierarchical and are often organized by women and provide assistance to families who are hit especially hard.
7. If you are a supervisor, be flexible and understanding of your employees
Because we’re living through decidedly abnormal (and scary) times, the most important thing you can do as a supervisor is be open to and understanding of your employees’ needs while working remotely. Employees who are parents likely have an additional full-time job of child care. Many people are experiencing the emotional effects of isolation. As an employer, work with your employees to figure out the best way to function as a team. That might mean daily video check-ins, or adding in a few minutes at the beginning of a team call to talk about things that aren’t work. The Harvard Business Review has compiled other strategies—from clear expectations to multiple communication technology options—on how to be a good manager during this pandemic.
8. Share that check
If you are going to receive a government stimulus check (not sure? find out here) during this time of crisis, but you are financially stable or don’t need it, consider options of giving all or part of it away to people who might be more in need. While this government check might be a helpful boost for you, it may not be enough to meet the needs of many people who receive it, especially low-income workers. At the same time, there are millions of people in the U.S. who will not receive any check at all due to their immigration, incarceration, or housing status. Consider signing the #ShareMyCheck pledge and sending this money to people who might need it more than you, whether it’s through a direct donation to a mutual aid fund or supporting a grassroots organization that supports the rights of women.