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Academic to research impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities

saleema kauser

Saleema Kauser has been awarded a grant by the British Academy to look at the extent to which social and economic factors might help explain the disproportionate effect that COVID-19 has had on BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities.

Dr Kauser, Lecturer in Organisational Studies at Alliance MBS, will head up a year-long study which forms part of a much wider British Academy analysis of the economic, social and cultural effects of the pandemic.

Specifically, she will look at identifying social and economic inequalities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis in relation to Asian women in the UK. Drawing on empirical research and interviews with 30 women working in the health and care sector, the study will aim to highlight the gendered impact and experiences of these women during the crisis.

More evidence

As Dr Kauser explained: “Earlier this year the British Academy put out a Special Research Grant call for research on COVID-19 across a broad swathe of research areas within Humanities and Social Sciences to consider the virus from a social and economic and cultural viewpoint, rather than from a strictly medical perspective.

“There is anecdotal evidence that those who suffered worst from viruses such as SARS and Ebola were those exposed and susceptible to poor social and economic conditions, as well as pre-existing health conditions, in particular women. We need to explore the extent to which the same is true for COVID-19 in the UK and explore the unquestionable inequalities facing both men and women working on the frontline who face greater risks. At the moment there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about why COVID-19 has had such an impact on BAME communities, but there are a lot of unanswered questions.”

Health and care workers

Dr Kauser says for her study she deliberately wanted to focus on health and care sector workers who were on the frontline fighting the virus, and the interviews may include speaking to women who actually had the virus themselves and recovered.

“Initially I will be looking at all the data to see how many women and men from BAME communities working in the health and care sector contracted the virus and what kinds of jobs they were doing. After I have completed this demographic analysis I will then select the specific women to interview.

“The hope is that my research will play its part in helping the government understand the extent to which underlying gendered social and economic inequalities play a role in not only impacting women and girls within BAME communities, but also women at large in other deprived areas. The research is relevant for both the current crisis and any future pandemics that we may have to deal with in the years ahead.”

At the height of the COVID-19 crisis the Health Secretary launched a formal review into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on people from BAME communities. For instance, the first ten doctors who died from coronavirus in the UK were all from BAME backgrounds.