Engendering Inclusion: A Perspective On Women’s Health, Employment, and HygieneVIEW EVENT DETAILS
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UN Women in its September 2020 report stated that an estimated 740 million women employed in the informal economy globally saw a 60% dip in their income during the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the global south, the pandemic has resulted in a widening of the gender gap in areas of employment, health and education. In the case of India, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) observed that New Delhi reported its lowest labour force participation rate (LFPR) at 33% and the fourth-highest unemployment rate of 23.3% during the first quarter of the pandemic last year. India already has the lowest rate of female labour force participation according to the World Bank. In addition to this, most working women in the country are employed in low skilled work and come from middle- and low-income households. Hence, the lockdowns have overburdened them with household duties, monetary issues and in many cases, domestic abuse.
According to the Health Management Information System, the number of unwanted pregnancies increased significantly during the first six months of the pandemic due to lack of access to contraception. Experts have also raised alarms about the rising cases of maternal fatalities, child mortality, and stillbirths, which failed to be better addressed during the early months of the pandemic. While these trends are concerning, even before the pandemic, malnourishment among women and adolescent girls were serious challenges in India. Women and children form a major portion of the 189.2 million undernourished people in India, and more than 50% of women of reproductive age are found to be anaemic. The pandemic has exacerbated these figures drastically concurrent to the threat of food security. Access to nutrition and quality education are two major factors that determine the labour force participation rate in a country. As India fares poorly on both these parameters, an economic stressor like COVID-19 is bound to impact women greatly as compared to men.
Dalberg’s recent report titled ‘Impact of COVID-19 on women in low-income households in India’ reiterates many of these crucial parameters. The report states that women experienced a deeper loss and a slower recovery in paid work as compared to men. The report observes that 43% of women in India lost their paid work, compared to 35% of men during the peak of the lockdown. Furthermore, job recovery in the private sector revealed a widening gender gap in which women, who held only 16% of the jobs, witnessed 29% of job losses due to the pandemic.
While the pandemic may have undone years of progress and development in fostering gender equality and inclusive workplaces, it is imperative that we drive meaningful interventions to minimise long-term implications. As we gradually recover from this crisis, what opportunities exist to mitigate, and even reverse, the negative effects of the pandemic on women’s sexual and reproductive health? What are some relief measures and on-ground solutions that have worked? How do these differ in design and implementation in rural and urban India?
Join us for a discussion aimed at understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives and livelihoods of women across various social groups in developing countries and their ability to access healthcare in these times of crisis with Swetha Totapally, Sapna Desai, Divya Nair and Suhani Jalota.
Swetha Totapally, Partner at Dalberg Advisors is a leader of the firm’s gender equality and technology practice areas. She directs many of the organization's efforts on government entitlements and research initiatives in India including the State of Aadhaar initiative and the Gendered Impacts of Covid report that surveyed over 17000 respondents from low-income households in 10 states during the 9 months following the first lockdown.
Sapna Desai is an associate at The Population Council in New Delhi. Her work focuses on women’s health and well-being in India, particularly community-based interventions, health systems, and sexual and reproductive health. She co-leads the global Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups as well as the Council’s internal initiative on infertility. Sapna is an alumnus of our Asia 21 Young Leaders community.
Divya Nair is Director at IDinsight, based in New Delhi. Divya has worked effectively with governments, multilaterals, and NGOs for almost 15 years. She is deeply invested in addressing topics around health and nutrition and women and girl's empowerment; and has also worked on financial inclusion, sanitation, and agriculture.
Suhani Jalota is the Founder and CEO of Myna Mahila Foundation based in Mumbai. Her mission is to bring equal access to health care services for all. She has been working in urban slum areas and rural communities researching and designing strategies on projects ranging from adolescent girl health, water, and sanitation, to social protection policies. Suhani is an alumnus of our Asia 21 Young Leaders community.
For event details visit https://asiasociety.org/india/events/engendering-inclusion-perspective-womens-health-employment-and-hygiene For event details visit https://asiasociety.org/india/events/engendering-inclusion-perspective-womens-health-employment-and-hygiene