Ishika Chaudhary, Tarishi Chaturvedi, IMPRI Team
The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities to a great extent affecting every sector of life deeply. To understand the effect of COVID-19 on women, Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a panel discussion on “Gendered Impact of the Catastrophic Second Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic: Way Forward towards Combating the Third Wave in India” on June 15, 2021.
Ms Seema Kulkarni, Founding Member, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune focused on Women farmers. She pointed that the first wave was urban centered and lockdown was a major issue as access to markets was restricted.
Bargaining power of Dalit women is low. Thus, Distress sales are happening in COVID. There is a series of COVID widows in rural areas. All public systems have failed women. There is deep economic impact on women. Stigmatized communities like Sugar cutters are facing a greater brunt.
Subsistence agriculture is in critical state. There are no opportunities for Livestock and forest workers. To access PDS, documents are needed to access food. Therefore, Food security is critical. Access to loans via micro finance institutions is leading to mounting Debt crisis. Women are subjected to sexual harassment on not paying loans. Online education has a cumulative effect on women.
Widows and orphans needs our attention. Structural inequalities needs to be looked into deeply. Further, Community support needs to be strengthened. Ecologically sound agriculture needs to be promoted and Marginalized people needs to come at the fore.
Ms. Seema Kulkarni said that we need to restructure and reform. Recognition of women farmers is critical. Universalize and expand the activities of women. Look at diversity of crops and not be limited to wheat and rice. Reimagine MGNREGA, asset building, ecologically centered agriculture. Land rights and Community rights to be strengthened.
Every rural woman needs to be engaged in livelihood activities in a broader context. For instance, Biosphere centers can be set up wherein Organic manure can be provided by the community.