I WELCOME Alison Johnstone’s article highlighting the danger that the coronavirus will widen the gender pay gap further (We cannot let virus widen gender pay gap further, November 13). However, I fear any action taken now may be too little too late and the horse may already have bolted.

Who would have believed in the heady days of the passing of the Equal Pay Act that 50 years on, so little would have been achieved. What little progress has been made may now be unravelling.

Women bore the brunt of the long austerity years after the 2008 financial crash (according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 86% of all Westminster-imposed cuts fell on women), a situation as Alison argues is likely to be made worse as a result of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Alison Johnstone: We cannot let Covid widen gender pay gap further

In response to the pandemic crisis, Westminster exempted companies from filing gender pay gap data this year, which resulted in half of them opting out altogether. This shows a concerning lack of commitment to the goal of pay equality but, even more worrying, the responses of those who did comply indicate that it will now take almost 200 years to close the gender gap.

According to the IFS, UCL Institute of Education and others, the pandemic will have a devastating effect on gender equality generally. They estimate that 47% of mothers were more likely to have lost their jobs or quit and 14% were more likely to have been furloughed since the crisis.

The gender pay gap is actually rising. Childcare and social care, which impacts most on women, are both in deep crisis. It is widely predicted that when the furlough system comes to an end, redundancy will affect far more women than men.

The Scottish Government has taken steps to address some of these issues but in my view, only through achieving independence and then arguing for progressive policies do we stand a chance of achieving equality for Scottish women.

Joan Skinner
via email