Though disaster is gender-neutral, our deeply webbed society is still far from achieving gender equality. Disaster from time to time has brought the issues faced by women at forefront, but no lessons have been learnt.
Why in the news?
The ongoing COVID-19 crises have brought to the surface the problem faced by women not only in normal time but also in this grave situation.
Why/how women are more affected?
While catastrophes affect people at large, the economical, sociological and psychological impact that each catastrophe has on women is profound
- Women stay around looking for their loved ones in order to see them safe. Due to which women lack many life skills such as swimming and climbing. For example, during Tsunami of 2004 – one -fourth of women died.
- In many camps that provide aid and support to women, they are exploited by men. For example, the issue of sexual violence in Rohingya relief camp.
- They are supported to be a homemaker and do all chores. With complete lockdown in COVID-19 pandemic, there is no relief for women as the male counterpart is at home 24*7.
- The fear of loss of jobs for men has found women as a punching bag to relieve their tensions. The National Commission of Women has highlighted the issue and was concerned with rising cases of domestic violence.
- In India there is less than 10 % of women who have the property registered on their name and with one of the lowest women labor force participation ratio (27 percent). So, the savings or insurance of women are very less that makes them more vulnerable.
- According to World Health Organization data, around 70% of the world’s health workers are women, 79% of nurses are women. In India, at the front line, we have accredited social health activist (ASHA) workers to provide health care. Recently many reports noted the incidents of attacks on them while on COVID-19 duty.
- Women often are engaged in sector-specific employment which when impacted result in unemployment. Women are also engaged in post-calamity care, missing job opportunities. An economic slowdown also leaves women with additional wage cuts, on a paradigm where pay disparity between genders is a norm.
- Women are twice as likely to face depression when compared to men. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) among reproductive age groups, pregnancy-related depressive conditions, postpartum depression (PPDs) among new mothers as well as premenopausal and menopausal symptoms are common, interfering in everyday life and relationships. The lockdown is adding more intensity to these conditions.
- The “culture of Silence” is a norm of Indian Society. Having no one to share their feelings and pain, they opt for extreme steps. According to NCRB, among women suicides by women, households’ women are the majority.
- Women are one least organized pressure groups. They are hardly part of the election manifesto. They are often neglected in the shade of other issues. For Example- Recent Migrants crisis and mass quantization have all focused on workers, sidling the women in their family with small children to feed. The right to privacy can hardly be accepted in such camps.
Are women really an issue that can’t be tackled?
No, today there are various examples that prove “Right Mindset” is more important than “Gender-divide”.
- Today, most of the countries that have tackled the coronavirus pandemic in an exemplary way are led by women. For example, Female leaders in places like New Zealand, Taiwan and Iceland have been applauded for their effective strategies in quickly combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
- Women are helping through various forums such as Self-help groups and NGOs. They are proving food, sanitizer and homemade masks to citizens of India.
- In India, we have seen many women in the profession of doctor, nurses, health worker, district officer, police officer etc. are doing more commendable jobs than our society would ever imagine.