The casualties of the coronavirus have been many. However, working women continue to be one of the most enormously hit groups. After the outbreak of the pandemic, women all around the world are being forced to make an immensely difficult choice, i.e., either to stay at home (to take care of their children and families while schools remain shut & child care becomes extremely expensive) or go back to work.
Many women who are single parents or those who live in abusive relationships do not even have a choice, given their glaring need for financial independence.
While all categories of women have been historically disadvantaged in the working sphere, women with children have to pay wider career choices as they are not only the ones to be laid off first but also are employed last, after losing or quitting previous jobs.
McKinsey Global’s report published in July 2020, reiterated the fact that even in developed countries like the US, women accounted to only 43% of the workforce but formed 56% of all Covid-19 related job losses.
The pandemic has also hit different sections of working women differently. On the one hand, the daily wage earners have no work, no wages and have to depend on alms to keep the fires burning.
On the other hand, those other women who work as maids cooks, teachers, nurses, office staffs, technicians, air hostesses, etc. all have their jobs at stake and live under the constant fear of being laid off and the dependency that follows. Women entrepreneurs who run small businesses also continue to suffer as the economy collapses.
The problem is also associated with the fact that women are seen as the primary caretakers and are usually the ones who juggle between work and home to maintain a perfect balance. Daycare for children, House help, grocery deliveries, tutors, friendly support from other co-parents in hosting outings, sleepovers and playdates makes these struggles comparatively easier. In the Covid-19 era, all of these have ceased to exist, increasing the burden of women by a significant margin.
Under such circumstances, it becomes necessary that the burden is shared between the members of the family. It is also imperative that employers not only recognize but support these choices. The world for women (with or without coronavirus) must not leap ten years backwards.