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Women’s Day: Fighting from the front- Women’s leadership in Covid-19

8/03/2021 at 7:30 AM

Women have been playing a fundamental role in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been leading a frontline role in the battle against Covid-19. Be it health-workers at Covid-19 hospitals/centres or voluntary workers at the community levels or caregivers at the domestic spheres, women are regarded as the principal campaigners against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Acknowledged worldwide, women are at the forefront of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic as they make up almost seventy percent of the healthcare workforce. They also constitute the ultimate caregivers at the domestic spheres during Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Besides, several women associations have led several philanthropic roles at the community levels in the form of raising awareness about the pandemic, sensitizing community members to use masks, distributing food packets, especially during lockdown-induced migration. Thus, women are rightly regarded as the frontline warriors both in the domestic as well as the non-domestic spheres.

Realizing the role played by women, the United Nations Women has aptly adopted the theme i.e. “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World” as its celebratory theme for this year International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration. The IWD is a global annual day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The IWD also intends to bridge gender polarity and accelerate gender parity.

Commemorated on 8th March every year, the IWD gears up to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities. The proposed theme by UN Women seeks to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the globe in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The heroic role played by numerous women in uniforms or non-uniforms has been widely observed by all worldwide in the Covid-19 pandemic. Certain examples will shape the tone of this argument. Let me take a couple of examples from the state of Odisha. It is seen that amid public outcry because of the scarcity of masks and sanitizers, a woman with a noble gesture from Baripada, came forward and distributed masks to the denizens free of cost.

In another interesting case, a poor woman from Bhadrak distributed her vegetable produce voluntarily to the residents of nearly fifteen nearby villages.

That apart, it is also seen that seventy lakh women members of six lakh mission shakti self-help groups shouldered several responsibilities, such as creating awareness on Covid-19, distributing rations, home delivery services etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Similar such examples have been experienced across the globe, which has been both locally and globally anchored by several individuals as well as institutions.

While praising lady doctors and nurses especially their roles in process of screening suspects and treating patients at hospitals and mothers and sisters and their roles in managing the home, the Government of Odisha lauded the women who are leading from the front in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The contribution of women can be visualized from all walks of life – social, economic, cultural, health, administrative etc. – in fighting against the pandemic.   

However, while reflecting on the frontline role played by the women in fighting against Covid-19, it is also the fact that women have become the worst victim of the pandemic. The impacts of crises are never gender-neutral. The Covid-19 pandemic is creating a profound shock globally with different implications for men and women. As mentioned, women are serving on the frontlines against Covid-19, and the impact of the crisis on women is blatant.

Women face amalgamating encumbrances. It is undoubtedly argued that impacts on women and girls have worsened across the board, which can be visualized both in the public sphere (for example, loss of livelihood) and the domestic sphere (for example, domestic violence). Even the situation of women has become more tragic in recent times.

It is seen that certain engagements like staff nurses who were once contractually appointed and often considered as the frontline Corona warriors are now in severe shock since the government has decided to disengage all casual and contractual employees once their contract period is over.

The move has come as part of the austerity measure to rationalize the expenditure in the wake of the Covid-19 triggered economic crisis. However, the move will, at the same time, snatch away the livelihood of about two lakh families and render an equal number of people jobless.

  Women have undoubtedly carried out the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic both in public and domestic spheres. They have also been severely affected by the pandemic in the way of loss of their livelihoods. They are also considered the victims of the virus. Therefore, it is very much necessary to make systematic efforts to restructure their livelihood base, which will invigorate their leadership role in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic.

That apart, we need to keep women in the decision-making process as well as the decision-implementation strategy, which will undoubtedly reinforce their energy to fight against the pandemic.

Thus, the women’s leadership in Covid-19 will be strengthened if we take care of the economic as well as non-economic aspects of their leadership, which will galvanize their effort of fighting from the front against the Covid-19 pandemic.        

About the Authors:

Dr. Aditya Keshari Mishra Department of Sociology, Central University of Odisha, Koraput

Dr. Sagarika Mishra, Department of Sociology, Vikram Deb Autonomous College, Jeypore, Koraput


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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