The ongoing global pandemic has taken a toll on the lives of every individual in various aspects. Be it mental, physical, emotional, social, economic, and financial aspects. In India, the pandemic has skyrocketed the unemployment rates. This has resulted in the loss of livelihood of the people. It has left them deprived of basic necessities. Such as food, security, and shelter, as well. The inequality amongst the genders and the classes are a great concern.
The gender statistics in India are depleting drastically. This has lead to what the International Labour Organization calls, vulnerable employment. It is where women are at a greater risk of going through a permanent exit in the labor market. The World Bank has also concluded a statement that says that more than 12 million people would be going through a poverty crisis.
There has been a recent gender inequality that has been surfacing during the pandemic. Due to which the plight of a woman is even more severe. Women are already in the clutches of the patriarchal norms and traditions. The norms and traditions which have arisen during these times where unequal distribution of food and resources are witnessed. The distribution is done solely on the basis of gender. It has been noticed that members of the family exhibit gender bias. Their first preference is given to the male members of the family.
What is even worse is the healthcare system statistics. The government has stated that 55 percent of women have not been using public health services. Several schemes introduced for women have been suspended during the lockdown. Survey reports claim that there has been a decline in the use of various schemes for the welfare of women. The schemes include the Janani Suraksha Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Provision of nutrition, counseling, and supplementary food resources to cater to the needs of pregnant mothers was the aim.
There are a number of states which have adopted doorstep delivery of supplementary nutrition. There have been other provisions, like immunizations, which have remained suspended due to the ongoing lockdown.
Covid-19 has, also, witnessed a large number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It has witnessed an alarming rise in the cases of domestic violence and abuse faced by women in their households. There is a ban on the export of progesterone and a pause in the production of IUDs in India. It has resulted in the restriction of limited access to birth control. Especially, in places where women did not use any form of contraception.
During the pandemic, couples are to make a choice. It is in terms of prioritizing their jobs and household chores. The choice lies between taking care of the house and children or working in their respective jobs for livelihood.
Most of these choices are in favour of men, who decide to continue their everyday jobs. While the women of the house have to be flexible and have their hands tied to complete the household work. This is because society has always ingrained in our mind that women need to compromise and be flexible.
All this unpaid labour falls heavily on the shoulders of women.
The pandemic has, also, witnessed a large number of women who died of childbirth. This is because priorities have shifted. All the available resources are now focusing on the purpose of the ongoing pandemic. Limitations in the provisions of beds, during the onset of pregnancies, are prominent. The beds are for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Self-help groups, which cater to the needs of women, have also stopped functioning. This is due to the social distancing that is taking place during this global pandemic.
It is notable that the global Covid-19 pandemic is not just a physical issue. It has now been an issue in various aspects affecting every individual in the country, especially women. The only way to fight gender inequality, during the pandemic, is to resume the pre-existing schemes that had been introduced for the welfare of women. Secondly, the introduction of gender-inclusive planning and implementation of policies must be done. For the welfare of the country as a whole.