ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE/ WOMEN
- GS-2: Women Empowerment
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
COVID Impact on Women Workforce
Context: COVID-19 Pandemic has severely exacerbated existing gendered barriers, widened India’s gender gap in the workforce, and affected (overwhelmingly female) caregivers and frontline workers.
Recent Survey Findings of Impact of Pandemic on Women
- Economic Impact: Women made up just 24% of those working before the pandemic, yet accounted for 28% of all those who lost their jobs. Women also constitute 43% of those who are yet to recover their paid work.
- Impact on food intake: Due to low income, more than one in ten women limited their food intake or ran out of food in the week they were surveyed.
- Impact on Health: About 16% of women had to stop using menstrual pads, and more than one in three married women were unable to access contraceptives.
- Increased Unpaid work: Indian women already do almost three times more unpaid work than Indian men (nearly 6.5 hours a day). During Pandemic, there is 47% increase in unpaid labour for women, and a 41% increase in unpaid care work for women.
- Government Support: One in three women said that government welfare schemes and SHGs had played an important role in helping them navigate the pandemic, comparable to the commonly cited family support.
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and the public distribution system (PDS) supported 12 million, 100 million, and 180 million women respectively during the crisis.
While the government’s role in entitlements has been invaluable to women, there is a need for broader conversations around universalising, deepening, and extending them support.
Following are three proposals
- Bundling free menstrual hygiene products with PDS would relax women’s dependence on income for these essentials.
- Launching drives to enlist women on MGNREGS job cards and increase the total number of person-days to meet women’s demand for job opportunities.
- Focusing on the inclusion of single, divorced/separated women in the One Nation One Ration Card rollout, and building social assistance programmes for informal workers, specifically domestic workers and casual labourers
Connecting the dots: