The suggestions – maintain social distancing, stay-at-home and be responsible quickly turned to a full country lockdown with a notice of 4 hours by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 24th of March, 2020. While a government enforced directive was of grave importance in the event of the pandemic and was taken by the government with learning from other countries, the hasty lockdown had consequences leaving a lot of people in dire straits. A complete shutdown of commerce, transport, medical aid (barring essentials) etc meant that a country of 1.3 billion had 4 hours to stock up on essentials (groceries, veggies, medicines), reach their homes in case they were working in other cities, deal with their medical requirements and basically prepare for everything for the next 21 days. While there have been debates about how this pandemic is a great leveler, but is it really?
Given the existing gender dynamics, the current situation created by COVID19 has a disproportionately higher impact of women putting them in a weaker position and hence requiring special attention and specific interventions targeted to their needs. While all women are vulnerable, single women, the agricultural laborer, salt pan workers, marginalized castes and class women have become far more vulnerable vis a vis health/food and nutrition security, increased domestic violence, indebtedness and their overall sustenance in the long run. In the absence of targeted relief in this situation, the position of women is likely to drop even further and mitigate the progress we, as a society, have made over the years. At SWATI we focused on incorporating a gender lens to our own and the government’s response to differential needs of women and girls in emergency and long-term support to combat COVID 19 pandemic.
Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiative – April 2020 – https://www.swati.org.in/?page_id=2248#xj-jbgMLoD0