Friday 15 March 17:30 - 19:00

Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
2nd floor, Wilkins Building, UCL
Gower Street

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Essential yet exploited? Invisibilised frontline workers in the pandemic

Charity & Causes

What were the working conditions of low-paid care workers like during and post-pandemic and how can we protect them in future crises?

Join us on World Essential Workers' Day as we examine the working conditions of low-paid care workers during and post-pandemic and ask how they can be better protected in the event of future crises.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has (re)discovered that some workers are essential. While initially the focus was on medical professions, it became increasingly clear that other workers were essential too. Amongst them, low-paid care workers such as workers in nursing homes, nannies, cleaners and domestic workers received little attention.

On this World Essential Workers Day, we will present findings from the project β€˜Who cares?’ that examines the working conditions of low-paid care workers during and post-pandemic. We will propose a definition of labour exploitation and discuss research findings on care work across multiple care sectors.

Frontline care workers will share their experiences from the pandemic and address the lack of care from employers and authorities during the crisis. We will also hear from scholars in the fields of labour and health and discuss the pressing question of frontline workers’ living, working and health conditions in crisis contexts. How can we ensure to β€˜leave no one behind’ when the next crisis comes, and to extend decent levels of protection to those who perform the essential work of sustaining our lives and well-being?

This event also marks the sixth anniversary of the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster and will include an introduction to the Centre's work. It will be followed by a networking reception.


  • Prof. Maureen Fordham, Professorial Research Associate, Director of the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster, University College London
  • Dr Sabah Boufkhed, Lecturer in Global Health, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, The University of Manchester
  • Prof. Shereen Hussein, Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Bile Jean, Care worker, Representative of Sage Nursing Home, United Voices of the World
  • Berta MartΓ­ Chicote, Nanny, Coordinator of the Nanny Solidarity Network

Chair and Organiser: Dr Louisa Acciari, Co-Director of the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster (UCL)

About the Centre

The Centre for Gender and Disaster based in the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, aims to develop awareness of, and responsiveness to, gender considerations in the contexts of risks, disasters and conflicts, through excellence in research and teaching.

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