Indian Women Lost Jobs, Ran Out Of Food More During COVID-19 Pandemic: Report

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Indian women in pandemic faced unemployment, unpaid labour and lesser food intake than men, a COVID-19 report by policy advisory firm Dalberg claims.

The report that covered the period between March and October last year is a harsh revelation of the pandemic-induced widening of the gender gap chasm in the country, as resources and accessibility plunged for women from low-income households.

Approximately 15,000 women were surveyed across ten states. One in ten women cut back on or went without food while 16 percent could not access sanitary napkins, necessities for health and hygiene. Where 27 percent women said they didn’t get adequate rest from work and chores as loads increased, only 18 percent men out of the 2,300 surveyed could say the same.

47 percent of women said chores had increased while for 41 percent of the total, unpaid care escalated. The 2019 National Statistical Office (NSO) survey in India had revealed women spent 4.47 hours everyday on unpaid household care while men only contributed 0.88 hours per day.

Glaring Gaps In Access To Basic Resources For Indian Women In Pandemic

The author of Dalberg’s report, Swetha Totapally, notes that the deadly second wave of COVID-19 in India “compounded the effects” of disadvantage from the first wave, during which unemployment concerns for women had already arisen. That the pandemic has proved to disadvantage women more than their male counterparts has been proved through endless research reports published through the last year.

A report by UNICEF in March this year emphasised the risk 10 million additional girls were at of child marriage during the pandemic, with India among the countries in the spotlight. Underage labour too is reported to be on the rise for the first time in 20 years during the pandemic.

The World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap Index 2021 saw India significantly slip 28 places, coming in at 140th place out of 156 countries. The report noted that women’s economic participation and opportunities available dropped by 3 percent compared to last year and participation of women in the labour force fell to 22.3 percent – a gender gap of 72 percent.

Even as non-COVID-19 resources lack on one hand, an analysis of the vaccine distribution in India on the other reveals the trend of women being inoculated in lesser numbers than men across majority states. See our report on it here.