23 Jul COVID-19 and women
(GS PAPER- 2, SOCIAL JUSTICE
SOURCE- THE HINDU)
Women workers have borne a disproportionate burden of the Covid 19.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, 61% of male workers were unaffected during the lockdown while only 19% of women experienced this kind of security.
47% of employed women who had lost jobs during the lockdown, had not returned to work.
Nearly half of the women workers withdrew from the workforce.
Women are more likely to enter as daily wage workers while men found avenues for self-employment. Daily wage work is typically far less remunerative than self-employment as on average. Hence, women are likely to be at very low earnings compared to men. Covid had disrupted the daily wages by closing the MGNREGA works, construction works which impacted the lower earnings of women.
Lost work disproportionately Compared to Men:
Women tended to lose work disproportionately irrespective of the industry in which they were employed. For instance, the share of women in job losses in education was three times their share in that industry.
Increased Household responsibilities:
household responsibilities increased for women because everyone was limited to the confines of their homes. According to The India Working Survey 2020, the number of hours spent in domestic work increased manifold for women.
The first round of layoffs has been particularly acute in the services sector, including retail, hospitality, and tourism, where women are overrepresented.
Lack of Social Security:
The vast majority of women‘s employment – 70 percent – is in the informal economy with few protections against dismissal or for paid sick leave and limited access to social protection.
The impacts of the COVID19 global recession will result in a prolonged dip in women‘s incomes and labor force participation, with compounded impacts for women already living in poverty.
Way Forward –
Expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the introduction of an urban employment guarantee targeted to women.
Creation of women employment through setting up of community kitchens, prioritizing the opening of schools and Anganwadi centers, and engagement with self-help groups for the production of personal protective equipment kits.
Setting up a COVID-19 hardship allowance of at least ₹5,000 per month for six months for 2.5 million accredited social health activists and Anganwadi workers.
Sectors where women are a large proportion of workers, and where supply chains have been disrupted, should have adequate access to credit, loans, grants so they can retain the female workforce.
The whole range of economic policies – for both immediate response and long-term recovery – need to be designed and implemented with a gender lens.
Access to benefits such as health insurance paid sick and maternity leave, pensions, and unemployment benefits need to reach beyond formal employment and be accessible to women in all spheres of work.
Integrate a gender assessment in all country assessments to understand the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, including economic impact, and how to address it effectively.