ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women Locked and Down

Gendering the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has affected Indian women differently. Due to the lack of autonomy and gender insensitive nature of the state’s response to the corona crisis, women are perceived as second class citizens. While the lockdown is not qualitatively a new experience for the women, even in critical times as it does not change boundaries or the nature of the public and the private spheres for them. Rather, it overburdens them, bereaves them of agency, and compromises their safety.

Disasters, natural calamities and pandemics do not necessarily have a uniform impact on various sections of society. We have experienced this repetitively during various crisis situations such as the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh, the 2003 European heat wave, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 Mumbai floods, for instance. Usually, the non-uniformity of impact is observed more in societies based on uneven foundations, like the Indian society, where the poo­rest and the weakest suffer the most for systemic reasons that gene­rate different vulnerabilities and unequal access in the first place.

The ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 provides a significant site to relearn the ­lesson, particularly so in the case of Indian women—employed or otherwise—who are presently suffering from a derailed and ­unsecured life basically due to their depen­dency on men in the patriarchal fold and their perceived status as secon­dary citizens in the eyes of the state. The International Labour Organization believes that women’s economic vulnerability to ­future disasters increases due to the lack of attention to gender equity in disaster interventions. The COVID-19 virus probably does not differentiate between male and female bodies for the purpose of infection; however, its sociopolitical impact does not remain gender neutral.

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2020

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