The government is being taken to court over claims its Covid-19 financial support scheme discriminates against women who have had babies recently.
The Pregnant Then Screwed charity say that around 75,000 self-employed women who have taken maternity leave in the last few years are getting less help than those who have not.
The Covid-19 Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was introduced in March last year alongside the furlough scheme.
Payments are calculated on average profits made between 2016 and 2019, meaning tens of thousands of women are estimated to have lost out on a proportion of the money.
Campaigners say that maternity leave should not be treated as “time off” or as a “holiday”, but as work “integral” to a “well-functioning” society.
A judicial review is being brought against the government on Thursday for indirect sexual discrimination.
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, wants periods of maternity leave to be exempt from calculations and for women affected to be given a rebate.
“In (the government’s) legal letter they correlated maternity leave to being the same as a sabbatical or sick leave,” she said.
“What is particularly disappointing to these women is that they feel the role that they have played for perhaps a year of raising a new human, and all the work that that entails, is not valued at all by the government and by society.”
“This court case is about defending women’s rights and showing the government that they cannot ride roughshod over the Equality Act,” she added.
Particular concern is also being raised for single self-employed mothers who are struggling “to put food on the table” and “keep a roof over their head”.
Cara Bowen went on maternity leave between 2018 and 2019, which brought her three-year average income down “significantly”.
While “glad” to be receiving any grant, her male counterparts “in a similar position” have qualified for higher payments.
“I have undoubtedly been penalised for having a child,” she told Sky News. “Maternity leave is not a holiday or sick leave, it is totally accounted for and the government know exactly why my income was lower for one year.
“They should easily be able to take this into account. I’ve constantly been made to feel like a second class citizen, both as a self-employed person and as a woman trying to make ends meet, and it’s simply not fair to be penalised for something that only mothers have to go through.
“Perhaps I would feel differently if men were able to claim Paternity Allowance as self-employed but they can’t (and that’s a problem in itself), so therefore it is clear that this pure discrimination against working mothers.”
The Treasury has in the past described SEISS as one of the “most generous” schemes of its kind in the world.
When asked to comment on the campaign, an HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We have submitted our arguments to the court this week on the Motherhood Judicial Review, ahead of the hearing on January 21.
“We cannot comment further on ongoing litigation.”
- One feared dead, several others injured after accident at Legon underpass
- Citi FM journalist, Caleb Kudah allegedly picked up by National Security operatives
- Leadership crisis at Ghana Rugby: Chairman Herbert Mensah suspended indefinitely, set to be removed from office on June 8
- Former British High Commissioner to Ghana, Craig Murray jailed for contempt in the UK
- Fire guts new Kejetia Market
- Ghana drops to 95th in 2021 World Happiness ranking
- NSMQ 2021: Tamasco and 3 others secure tickets to Accra on day one of Northern Regional qualifiers
- Dr Mavis Owureku Asare: Wesley Girls’ no fast policy is not about religion
- Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘No Longer at Ease’ and ‘Arrow of God’ are being adapted for television
- Our scholars in Cuba are broke because they insist on table-top payment – GNPC Foundation
Ghana to host African Swimming and Open Water championships
Chief breaks ground for multipurpose Nkawkaw Palace
Double whammy for Ghana in Old Mutual Amazing Voices
RTI Law is to empower citizens and to fight corruption – RTI Coalition
Mental disorder after childbirth is real – Victim recounts
Transgender Cameroonians jailed for 5 years
Dr Prince Hamid Armah: Exploring Akufo-Addo’s commitment to education; Policy, spending, and outcomes
Politicisation of security agencies cause of insecurity in the country- Sam George
Museveni takes oath for 6th term
Ghana has not done enough to get girls out of the streets – Development consultant
China’s population grows to 1.41 billion people
Uganda deploys troops ahead of Museveni inauguration
Banks cannot be blamed for not accepting new Voter ID cards – Association of Bankers
9-year-old boy dies after being ‘struck by lightning’ on football field
Citi FM journalist, Caleb Kudah released from National Security custody