COVID-19 has made women’s history month obsolete, yet on the last day of March, elected officials are honoring the female sex.
On March 31, the City Council’s Women’s Caucus and the Committee for Women and Gender Equity will hold the 14th annual National Equal Pay Day Virtual Rally. Typically the event is held on the steps of city hall.
Through video and social media, advocates, leaders and the public will:
- Spotlight past wage inequality for women, especially for women of color.
- Highlight how the coronavirus crisis exposes women’s economic vulnerability, their critical role in creating and maintaining a healthy society and the lack of workplace and government support.
- Call for passage of federal and state legislation to create economic parity for women.
- Send messages of thanks to the low-wage women workers on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis protecting and caring for New Yorkers.
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, who is the co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, spoke with the Bronx Times about the coronavirus and its impact on women, her constituents and herself.
“It’s been hard. It’s been really emotionally draining,” Gibson said.
Gibson said never has she experienced anything like this epidemic nor did she imagine it would grow to be this bad.
The councilwoman explained that COVID-19 will affect the city budget. With much of the funds being allocated for medical supplies and the Department of Health, many cuts will likely be made, including kids programs for the summer.
Gibson said she would be remiss to not touch on the roles women have played during this crisis. They are mothers taking care of their kids who are stuck at home, going to work and sacrificing their health or on the front lines in hospitals trying to save lives.
She noted that doing her job has been quite a challenge. While she and her staff are working remotely, she has been communicating non-stop, with constituents, teachers, principals, organizations and colleagues all via phone, Skype or Zoom. On Monday, she handed out food with Fresh Direct and later this week plans to visit a hospital. Not being able to meet with people is disheartening, she said.
Seeing empty parks, lifeless streets and shuttered schools and stores is quite upsetting, she remarked. The councilwoman told the Bronx Times many people have been calling about the lack of access to food and unsafe living conditions in shelters in the wake of social distancing.
“It’s like the twilight zone,” she said.
But, she stressed hospitals need beds, ventilators and masks and anyone that isn’t sick should stay home.
“We need to concentrate on the people that are hospitalized with coronavirus,” Gibson stated. People are dying out here and we are struggling. This is really unbelievable.”