In Pakistan, why are women the hardest hit by the pandemic?

The situation is more of a problem for working women, as on the one hand they are forced to fulfill their career responsibilities at home, while on the other hand, they are also worried about handling household chores efficiently.

Women Pandemic

On April 15, 2020, the UN Secretary-General took to Twitter to draw attention to the
escalating domestic violence around the world following the coronavirus. Similarly, female’s access to health, education and employment has also worsened by the pandemic.

After COVID 19, such incidents escalated not only in developing countries (where either
domestic violence laws do not exist at all and if they exist, their implementation is weak
due to social pressures) but also in developed societies (where there are active laws).

Domestic violence on the rise as the pandemic enters its fourth month

In this case, in Pakistan, where social attitudes generally appear to be reluctant to intervene by making domestic violence a private matter, the situation is deteriorating further after the epidemic.

The first reason is that men spend more time at home, taking a social distance because
of Corona. The second reason is that women, regardless of their class, are expected to
perform best in household chores, which have become more difficult to accomplish,
especially in the absence of domestic workers since Corona.

Read more: US hoards COVID drug, leaving little for the rest of the world

This situation is more of a problem for working women, as on the one hand they are forced to fulfill their career responsibilities at home, while on the other hand, they are also worried about handling household chores efficiently. ۔

In these circumstances, gender segregation in societies like Pakistan also increases
because women generally do not have social equality and the only criterion for
assessing their qualifications is simply fulfilling household responsibilities, regardless of how professionally skilled they are.

 

In this regard, I recently had the opportunity to read the discussions in a social group with
more than 28,000 highly educated women, on Facebook, about domestic issues in the wake of the Corona pandemic. Women expressed mental and physical fatigue due to
living in a joint family. In the same group, a woman told her story and asked for suggestions on how to handle her in-laws and an abusive husband.

Female education takes a massive hit

The second major problem facing Pakistani women after Corona is the discontinuation of
education. Those who were previously attending schools are now at home and are forced to carry the burden of domestic responsibilities. The only reason for this is the ignorance of government schools about online education. This situation is even more troubling for females because whenever the issue of continuing education in poor families is highlighted, males are always given priority, regardless of qualifications.

Read more: Power dynamics to shift in post-covid world

That is why the male literacy rate in the country is 70%, while the female literacy rate is 48%. It is also important to point out that girls who are also involved in online education are also forced to take responsibility
for household chores, which significantly affects their academic performance.

Female access to employment opportunities and healthcare dwindles

Like education, women’s health conditions have deteriorated since the Corona
pandemic started. Especially so for pregnant women who are waiting for regular medical checkups but are facing difficulties as hospitals are already under pressure from the pandemic, and access to medical care has become even more difficult, especially for economically weaker women.

According to a United Nations report, 48.1% of women aged 15-49 in Pakistan have no personal preference for access to medical care. In these circumstances, rural women who are already unable to access medical care for various reasons are forced to face even more difficulties in accessing healthcare after the virus.

Read more: Aamir Khan confirms his staff has tested positive for Covid-19

Apart from education and health, another important issue facing women in the provision
of employment. Although the general rate of unemployment in Pakistan, like in other
countries, has risen due to the lockdown after the Corona pandemic, the victims are
disproportionately women who are deprived of job security due to their informal occupations.

Globally, women are already living in 25 percent more extreme poverty
than men, according to a United Nations report. This rate has increased in all countries
due to the pandemic. The victims are mostly female domestic workers.

In the end, it is important to note that whether it is a pandemic or a war situation, history
has shown that women are the easiest victims. The saddest thing is that even in such emergencies, the ruling class does not take gender disparity into account in its strategy. As a result, the weaker section of society becomes more vulnerable.

The author graduated with a degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University and has worked in Daily Jang and Aaj News TV. Currently, the author is working at FBR. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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