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

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Taking Stock of the Gendered Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

An Unfettered Freefall

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As we write this introduction, India is faced with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons of the past 12 months of the pandemic have been sobering. Women are losing jobs at a disproportionate rate compared to men, with four out of every 10 working women having lost their jobs post the lockdown. Levels of unpaid work have risen dramatically, leading to a robust debate amongst feminists on the desirability of cash transfers for housework, which have been promised by several political parties in the run-up to the state elections.

It is hardly surprising that India has fallen to an abysmal 140th rank out of 156 countries according to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum. India’s poor performance can be attributed to unique features of the economy (especially declining growth, jobless growth, and crisis in demand) and women’s role in paid economic ­activity (that is, low and declining labour force participation rates) which long preceded the pandemic. As we grapple with the changes wrought by the latter, we realise that we need to reckon with long-term trends as well as the contingent moment, and note what is “normal” and what is “exceptional.” The essays that feature in this number of the Review of Women’s Studies attempt to do precisely this.

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Updated On : 25th Apr, 2021

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