There is nothing new about how covid has affected and changed all of our lives and it’s not getting back to normal anytime soon. So, let’s not forget that the effect of this pandemic is not gender-neutral, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected women more than men, both as frontline workers and at home. Although men and women have been granted the same rights the gender discrepancy just doesn’t seem to end. For a huge number of women, apart from losing their jobs, unpaid care and burden of domestic work has exploded. Women living under poverty has a much higher risk of getting infected, loss of income, unhealthy living conditions, and increased violence. Globally, women make the majority of healthcare workers, and yet in terms of wage and security, they are not at par with their male counterparts.
While everyone is trying to stay safe and work from home, women’s ability to do professional work is affected due to the greater burden of domestic work and care at home. Also, the fact that women typically earn less than men, there is a huge risk that women’s jobs will be sacrificed. Hence, it will further delay a women’s career progression and an increase in the gender pay gap. Apart from that most women who are employed in the vulnerable sectors like hospitality, garment industry and house help work took the hardest hit resulting in job loss for them. School closures can also lead to an increase in early marriage and a higher rate of teen pregnancy for girls who will then never return to school, thus ending their careers.
IMPACT ON HEALTH
While both men and women report an increase in unpaid work since the start of the pandemic, women are continuing to shoulder the bulk of the major household work, which is taking a huge negative toll on their mental health. Closures in schools and day care centers, as well as a decrease in the availability of outside support, have led to months of additional work for mothers. Working mothers have had to find the balance between full-time jobs, childcare, and education responsibilities. With this, there are other issues haunting women daily like the spike in domestic abuse, violence, reduced access to sanitary needs, and an increase in teen pregnancy and pregnancy-related deaths.
Working towards gender equality is also good for the economy. This was true even before Covid-19, but amidst the pandemic and looking at all the impact it had on our lives, it is more important than ever. There is no need to waste time debating whether gender inequality exists or not. The pandemic has caused us to be more empathetic so let’s use that and support a bigger picture. The time has come for our government and business leaders to take action and make gender equality a reality.
That still seems like quite a journey, till then there are some actions women can take to manage their work and personal life balance during this pandemic. For instance:
- Making a task list for every day including your highest priority work, while also allowing flexibility.
- Staying connected with loved ones.
- Having dedicated space for certain activities (eg: workspace)
- Seeking help from others in work and personal life to reduce stress and share the load.
- Engaging in self-care.
- Talk about your feelings with your family members