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.

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Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all kinds of oppression- Nelson Mandela

Prof Vibhuti Patel, Eminent Economist and Feminist, Former Professor, TISS, Mumbai, initiated the discussion as a moderator by stating that it is important to discuss the gender implications of the pandemic as the situation is worst in the second wave. COVID orphans and COVID widows are the new terms added to our vocabulary due to the devastating impact of COVID-19.

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She pointed to the naked profiteering by private enterprises amidst this pandemic which is pathetic to note. She said that we need to promote Universal health care and 6% of our GDP should be devoted to the public health sector. The Government needs to give attention to:

  • 1 crore girls who are at the verge of droping-out of schools
  • Food and nutrition safety
  • Job safety for unemployment
  • Recognition, Reduction and Redistribution of Care work
  • Application of labor standards
  • Health insurance to ASHA & Anganwadi workers
  • Global minimum tax of 15% for corporate profits as talked in G7 summit 2021

Gender responsive public policy for inter-sectional marginalities based on caste, class, religion, gender and ethnicity is the need of the hour.

The thinking of Profit before people needs to stop- Prof Vibhuti Patel

Gender based violence has taken varied forms in the form of sexual violence, online harassments, domestic abuse, forced child marriages etc. Mata corona temples have been set up in villages as people believe that by worshipping corona, they can get rid of it. Labor codes effect on women needs to be discussed promptly.

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The focus in second wave has been on oxygen and hospital beds. We have lost precious lives to COVID-19 and 594 doctors have died within the first week of second wave. Thus, to discuss this multi-pronged issue, Prof Vibhuti Patel invited esteemed panelists to put forward their viewpoints.

Prof Vibhuti Patel concluded by highlighting the statement of WHO that Global health is losing out on women’s talent due to gender discrimination. Women and girls future need to be secure for equitable growth. Government should support childcare and maternal health. Challenge gender norms to create equal opportunities by adopting Gender-responsive budgeting.

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