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Increase in gender inequality in India during the pandemic

Tanya Jain 18th November 2020

Stereotypes against women are being enforced in households much more during the pandemic (Source: The New York Times)

The onset of the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has proven to be an unprecedented time for everyone. With no sense of security and a complete shutdown of the world, things have never felt worse. Gender Equality is one of the few invisible aspects in our country that has taken a turn for the worse.

In a country where Gender Equality was already an issue, this is a major setback in the fight towards equality.

With the imposition of a lockdown as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, everyone is stuck in the confines of their house—and because of this, certain gender stereotypes are being reinforced in full force.

Men have settled into the traditional role of being the 'bread-winner' while women are being forced to settle entirely into the role of the 'caregiver'.

Men are expected to either work from home or go to work. Since domestic help, cooks, and other people that help with the daily activities of a household weren't available—especially in the first few months of lockdown—the onus of all household chores fell on the residents of the house. Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc are all tasks that befell women—since the men were working, and the children were studying, and women were expected to drop their jobs in order to ensure the house functioned properly.

The pandemic is enforcing these brick

categories on people more than ever—many times without them even realising that this is happening.

“Oxfam India estimated that women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day. It is equivalent to the contribution of 19 lakh crore (trillion) a year to the Indian economy," said Diya Dutta, one of the authors of the

Oxfam’s 2020 India Inequality Report—On Women’s Backs as reported by Live Mint. Live Mint also states that the report is based on data and responses collected from urban and rural women in New Delhi and Rajasthan in the past year.

“The burden of care work is so immense that it does negatively impact their (women’s) participation in the workforce, circumscribe their pursuit of education and discourages them from taking care of their health," Dutta also added.

These gender stereotypes, even if being enforced without a person's constant realisation, bring women down and tend to demean them. To reduce a woman to a caregiver or overly emotional is abject, and to mock women for what they feel in times of global distress just adds to the problem.

(Sources: LiveMint, The Diplomat, Huffington Post)

Edited by: Anjali Dinesh

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