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COVID-19 Negatively Affected Women’s Income, Health, Security: UN Women’s Top Official Anita Bhatia

UN Women’s Anita Bhatia highlighted that the impact of the care burden that women has increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Negatively Affected Women's Income, Health, Security: UN Women's Top Official Anita Bhatia
Highlights
  • Impact of the pandemic on women has been disproportionate: Expert
  • Government must invest in re-skilling women: Expert
  • Women are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19: UN Women

New York: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected women’s income, health and security, and now there is a “magnified problem” of the impact of care burden that is precluding them from rejoining the workforce, top Indian-origin official at the UN Women Anita Bhatia has said ahead of the International Women’s Day. Ms. Bhatia, the Assistant-Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of New York-based UN Women, a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women, stressed on the need for women-focussed policies as nations strive to build back better. “One year into the pandemic, we are seeing the real impact of all this playing out. But one thing has become crystal clear through the pandemic which wasn’t so clear at the beginning, is the impact of the care burden that women have,” she told PTI in an interview on Saturday (March 6).

Also Read: Women’s Day 2021: COVID-19 Pandemic Impact On Women And Their Struggle To Feed Their Families

Ahead of the International Women’s Day which is on March 8, Ms. Bhatia said that the impact of the pandemic on women has been disproportionate relative to the impact on men, with women’s income, health and security begin negatively affected due to the global health crisis. She said that women were doing three times as much unpaid care as men before the pandemic and this number has “exponentially increased” because the care burden has fallen disproportionately on women, who are doing housework, helping children with homework, ensure there is food on the table.

The new problem that we are seeing now, one year into the pandemic, is not only that women lost jobs. It’s that even as economies open up, you are not finding women going back to their jobs in the same numbers, Ms. Bhatia said.

As the pandemic hit, there was an already declining labour force participation of women around the world.

When you add to that, the huge impact of the care burden, what you see is a magnified new problem, which is the impact of the care burden on women, and how that is precluding them from going back to work in the same way as before, she said.

Ms. Bhatia cautioned that if this continues to play out the way it is, countries will see a decline in productivity because half the population is not working. Declines in productivity will be followed by a fall in GDP because the pie is getting smaller.

It is absolutely imperative that as governments think about building back better, they think very explicitly about what does this mean for women. How do we make sure that women are at the center of the response. And that we are doing everything we can to make sure that we are growing our economies and not shrinking them, she said.

Also Read: Women’s Day 2021: Into The Life Of Corona Warriors, Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic Since The Start

Ms. Bhatia emphasised that the issue of care burden on women is not a family or an individual issue but a public policy one.

This means governments have to think about subsidised childcare, expanding social protection schemes, cash transfer programs. Countries have to rethink very fundamentally their social and economic systems if they want to have women be an active part of their societies and economies,” she said, adding that businesses have to think about providing childcare, flexible working hours.

As nations prioritise building back better, Ms. Bhatia said governments have to continue to invest in digital infrastructure and skilling, consider the issue of care burden for women as a public policy matter and ensure social protection schemes that can help alleviate burden of the care on women are expanded.

This is not just for the public sector. It’s a private sector ask as well because this cannot be done just by government, businesses too have a very important role to play, she said.

Ms. Bhatia also pointed out that it is very important for governments to invest in re-skilling women for new jobs as some jobs have shifted and are never coming back in a post-pandemic world.

It’s really important to give women the skills they need to participate in the new way of working in the future of work, she said.

The UN Women said that the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,’ which “celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain.

Also Read: Women’s Day 2021: Let’s Talk Menstruation Say Girls In This Bihar Village

The UN agency said that women are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 yet they get paid 11 per cent less globally than their male counterparts. Ms. Bhatia pointed out that as nations implemented lockdowns, sectors such as retail, hospitality, tourism and travel that had a very high degree of female participation closed down first.

Not that men didn’t lose jobs, but women lost them at a higher proportion, and suffered a higher unemployment rate compared to men, she said.

Ms. Bhatia also underscored that basic physical safety of women was heavily affected during the pandemic. Rates of domestic violence went up because of stressful situations created from lack of employment. Conditions of the lockdown were “just perfect” for perpetrators of abuse since women could not go out nor did they have access to helplines.

In her message on International Women’s Day 2021, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said there has been increased violence against women and girls during the pandemic as well as lost learning for girls as school drop-out rates, care responsibilities and child marriages rise.

We are seeing tens of millions more women plunge into extreme poverty, as they lose their jobs at a higher rate than men, and pay the price for a lack of digital access and skills, she added.

Also Read: Opinion: Why Women Eat Last And Least?

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

26,21,50,955Cases
22,29,25,306Active
3,40,18,299Recovered
52,07,350Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,21,50,955 and 52,07,350 have died; 22,29,25,306 are active cases and 3,40,18,299 have recovered as on November 30, 2021 at 3:50 am.

India

3,45,87,822 6,990Cases
1,00,5433,316Active
3,40,18,299 10,116Recovered
4,68,980 190Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,87,822 confirmed cases including 4,68,980 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,00,543 and 3,40,18,299 have recovered as on November 30, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,34,980 536

11,525 338

64,82,493 853

1,40,962 21

Kerala

51,37,091 3,382

45,138 2,514

50,51,998 5,779

39,955 117

Karnataka

29,95,857 257

6,907 47

29,50,747 205

38,203 5

Tamil Nadu

27,26,197 730

8,291 46

26,81,434 767

36,472 9

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,725 101

2,102 38

20,56,184 138

14,439 1

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,387 5

86 3

16,87,391 2

22,910

West Bengal

16,15,378 511

7,733 71

15,88,172 571

19,473 11

Delhi

14,40,900 34

285 3

14,15,517 36

25,098 1

Odisha

10,48,880 197

2,165 26

10,38,306 221

8,409 2

Chhattisgarh

10,06,779 16

318 12

9,92,868 28

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,770 12

187 12

9,45,628 24

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,435 27

262 22

8,17,081 49

10,092

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,150 12

126 4

7,82,496 8

10,528

Haryana

7,71,692 16

165 3

7,61,473 19

10,054

Bihar

7,26,219 2

39 2

7,16,517 4

9,663

Telangana

6,75,798 184

3,581 46

6,68,227 137

3,990 1

Assam

6,16,708 140

2,595 96

6,08,015 230

6,098 6

Punjab

6,03,258 18

329 11

5,86,330 26

16,599 3

Jharkhand

3,49,232 11

95 2

3,43,997 9

5,140

Uttarakhand

3,44,227 8

132 44

3,36,687 51

7,408 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,681 150

1,626 32

3,30,579 181

4,476 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,093 90

824 29

2,22,422 61

3,847

Goa

1,78,890 24

276 3

1,75,230 19

3,384 2

Mizoram

1,34,810 437

3,805 95

1,30,512 531

493 1

Puducherry

1,28,893 12

296 16

1,26,725 28

1,872

Manipur

1,25,169 17

655 30

1,22,539 43

1,975 4

Tripura

84,791 4

78 8

83,890 10

823 2

Meghalaya

84,461 17

285 16

82,704 32

1,472 1

Chandigarh

65,456 8

58 4

64,578 4

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,273 4

35 2

54,958 2

280

Sikkim

32,233 5

121 6

31,709 11

403

Nagaland

32,109 9

140 5

31,273 4

696

Ladakh

21,540 12

250 18

21,076 29

214 1

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

1 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,394

24 4

10,319 4

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,683 2

8 2

7,546

129

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