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Report: COVID-19’s crushing impact on women in Northeast Wisconsin

The pandemic has been devastating for women on all levels – economically, socially, mentally and physically. We have heard the statistics and stories from a national perspective, but the newly released COVID-19 Impact on Women in Northeast Wisconsin Study has captured the local impact of the pandemic on women in Northeast Wisconsin.

Julie Keller, Executive Director, Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region

The Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region, in partnership with neighboring Women’s Funds in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, worked together to commission the research led by a team at the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert College.

The report is based on the response of 1,050 women from the northeast region of Wisconsin to an online survey from March 16 to April 27, 2021.

Specific focus area of the study included:

  • Employment and income
  • Ability to pay rent/mortgage
  • Child care responsibilities
  • Children and schooling
  • Post-secondary education
  • Mental health
  • Hostility and violence

Key findings from the report:

  • Faced with the sudden loss of child care and schooling, the COVID-19 shutdown contributed to an increased responsibility burden for working women in Northeast Wisconsin since women were more frequently responsible for the direct supervision of their children and coordinating at-home and online schooling.
  • Working women who care for children experienced increased rates of poor mental health and stress during the pandemic due to the significant time spent doing unpaid care work and challenges at work due to time constraints.
  • The pandemic exacerbated long-established disparities in violence against women in some instances. Those that reported violence, experienced more frequent abuse during the pandemic.
  • Daily stress increased during the pandemic. Most women expressed confidence that daily stress will drop after the pandemic but not to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Lower income and unpartnered women in Northeast Wisconsin experienced unique challenges citing less flexible work schedules and higher rates of furlough compared to other women, along with more child care and school responsibilities.

The data collected will guide us and the community on where our resources should be invested to have the greatest impact for women to help them not just recover but also thrive.

The entire report, along with a link to an interactive dashboard, can be found online at each women’s fund’s website. Learn more here.

This collective study and interactive dashboard are made possible through a regional grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, a collaboration between the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, U.S. Venture, and the J.J. Keller Foundation.

The Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Regions is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation and a separate 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Women’s Fund invests in the needs of women and girls through grants, advocacy and education. Since 1994, the Women’s Fund has awarded more than $1.8 million in grants to innovative programs that improve women’s and girls’ physical and mental health, ensure their economic security, promote their safety and enhance their lives. For more information, click here.

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