Pandemics and epidemics differently impact men and women, just as disputes differently impact men and women. Consideration of gender disparities in preparedness and response to the outbreak is significant since the aftereffects rely on both social and physical dimensions.
Working Women in the Wake of Outbreak
70 percent of the world’s healthcare and social workers are women, ensuring that they are not only the first responders to contain the epidemic, but also the front line for disease catchment. According to the 68th round of the National Sample Survey’s study on jobs in India, health workforce estimates show that trained women health workers make up nearly half of the skilled health workforce. Skilled nurses and midwives were hugely dominated by women across various groups of health staff.
In addition, many states across the country have asked Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi volunteers to search for symptoms on families in their regions, and to hold precautionary measures advisory sessions against COVID-19. Nonetheless, according to sources, ASHA associations have approached the central government to provide them with appropriate equipment that they currently lack. ASHA makes up approximately one million female health workers in society and Anganwadi staff includes 1.4 million people.
Many women in India are in domestic work, and women’s self-employment is also high, these patterns are significant indicators of the impact of a pandemic like COVID-19 huge number of women in the non-agricultural sector are domestic workers, compared with low presence of men. Although this may mean a normal day at work as opposed to some going into a pattern of ‘work from home,’ many home-based employees are often self-employed, meaning they will not be able to take advantage of any workplace pandemic benefits offered by businesses.
Bad Access to Health Facilities during Outbreak.
Women’s needs often become a matter of secondary importance, and important sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services are redirected to emergency responses. Outbreaks of large-scale diseases will worsen the shortage of reproductive and sexual health services. While no evidence of COVID-19’s effect on pregnant women has been identified, findings suggest that pregnancy was a high-risk factor for increased disease and death during pandemics.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain of health care. It can cause shortages of medications such as contraceptives, antibiotics to cure sexually transmitted infections, and AIDS / HIV antiretrovirals. In effect, the inaccessibility of such medications will cause prices to increase and affect poor women seeking abortion or preventing virus exposure during pregnancy.
Impact on Girls Education.
Governments also introduce social distancing steps alongside school closures, and limit the flow of individuals, goods, and services, leading to a stagnant economy. Although this disruption to education and the anticipated decline in global growth will have far-reaching consequences for everyone, their impact will be especially detrimental to the most vulnerable students and their families, especially in poorer communities. COVID-19’s educational effects will continue past the time of school closures, affecting overwhelmingly disadvantaged girls.
The current global pandemic is predicted to impact girls’ education for years to come. It could be summed up that poor girls are more at risk than boys dropping out of school after the closing of the school and women and girls are more vulnerable to the worst effects of the current pandemic.
Minimal Representation in Decision Making Roles.
Nevertheless, women make up most of the frontline health workers, their participation is weak in systems for global health safety monitoring, identification, and prevention. In India, the task force on economic response to COVID-19 is headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who is a woman. However, in the 21 member Committee for Public Health Experts on COVID-19, established by the Indian Council for Medical Research, there are only two women.
It may be strengthening women’s voices and awareness, enhancing preparedness for outbreaks, and a more gendered response to the crisis. The response to COVID-19 spread needs to take into account the multiple impacts on vulnerable communities like women. The global community needs to exchange ideas, learn best practices, and make sure no impact is too negative.
(The views expressed in this article are by Anu Bajaj, President PARI U. P. Onlineandyou.com doesn’t own any responsibility for it.)