International Women’s Day conjures up glitzy images of successful women being honoured and celebrated for their world-renowned achievements and triumphs in business, technology, the arts, science, politics and medicine. International Women’s Day gives visibility to the positive impact of women’s accomplishments globally – but who do YOU consider to be a high achieving successful woman?

International Women’s Day is equally important to highlight continuing inequalities for women and girls. During the coronavirus pandemic this has become even more intense as the line between home and work became blurred.

This International Women’s Day, I ‘choose to challenge’ you to think about unpaid carers, in particular, women, who are estimated* to be 60-70% of carers of people with dementia.

Although caring can be highly rewarding, for women who are carers, every single day brings a new challenge – whether that’s physical, emotional, psychological or financial. In Scotland, there are over 90,000 people with dementia. It is estimated that there are almost the same number of people acting as unpaid carers looking after their loved ones. In November 2020, Carers Scotland estimated that there might be 1 million carers who currently save the government £43 million a day. Over the pandemic, 87% of these carers have taken on extra caring duties. 77% of these carers admit they are exhausted.

Carers are often socially isolated. Supporting someone with dementia to live at home is a skilled and often full-time occupation, which in turn results in the carer often retiring from employment when balancing work and caring becomes too complicated and demanding. The carer’s mental and physical health can suffer, as well as their social life. Relationships with family and friends are impacted as people often don’t understand the all-consuming commitment that caring can be. Traditional gender roles are often engrained, with women seen as the ‘nurturer’, the ‘mother’ and in many cases it seems expected that the women will naturally take on the caring role as well as still having to contend with their (often unfair) share of the domestic duties. Many women are also trying to juggle caring for a parent at the same time as bringing up their own children, this is often referred to as ‘sandwich caring’.

On 8th March 2021, International Women’s Day, unpaid carers will continue as normal. There will be little or no recognition for their success at caring, despite the challenges they face every hour. So, now who do you think are successful women? On International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to think about, and celebrate, the high achieving women who are carers who, quietly and resolutely, look after their loved ones.

Thea Laurie is a member of NDCAN (National Dementia Carers Action Network) and a former carer for her mother, Dorothy, who was diagnosed with dementia, and who made the most of every day.


*Centre for Economics and Business Research (2019) The economic cost of dementia to English businesses p.7