During the discussions on rural realities of the country, Dr Sabina Martins Founder, Bailancho Saad, A Women’s Collective, Managing Trustee, Saad Alashiro, A trust of Bailancho Saad; Convenor; Goa Bachao Abhiyan; Activist; highlighted some of the issues faced by women in the state during second wave of the pandemic.
In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities | Goa| Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 28, 2021, as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic is engulfing the length and breadth of our country, India, and hitting the heartland of our country which is the rural areas.
Giving a snapshot of socio economic condition of Goa and current pandemic situation in the Union Territory a presentation was given by IMPRI researchers Swati Solanki and Mahima Kapoor. They informed the participants about the state’s geographical and socio-economic status and gave insight into the situation of COVID-19 in India and Goa, highlighting pertinent emerging issues.
Women and COVID-19
During the conversation, Dr Martins emphasizes on the unawareness in rural areas about pandemic due to lack of information provided by the state in remote areas and especially, to women who were illiterate and cannot access digital facilities. Elucidating further she said that there exist whole section of vulnerable society who were not connected through information channels.
Talking about lack of access to health care facilities, she commented that when members of the family in rural areas fell ill they were unable to access health facilities due to limited transport facilities as the testing centers were located far away from remote areas. She highlighted the fact that providing transport facilities in rural areas were not taken in to account thereby increasing the risk factor of spread.
Commenting on the impact of pandemic on women, she said that generally the caregivers in the family are women and that they getting affected due to little access to healthcare, has resulted in a larger problem. She also highlighted the issue of lack of information about vaccination centers along with vaccination shortage in rural areas.
She further dwelled upon the existence of myths regarding the pandemic and vaccination in rural areas, causing apprehensions in people about getting vaccinated. She underlined that the pandemic saw increased cases of domestic violence and the response to crimes related to women has not been impactful.
Stressing upon livelihood issues she pointed that in the second wave people faced huge livelihood crisis with no organizations and government facilities to support them.
She also raised the issue of discrimination faced by daily wage workers with no compensation and leaves given to them as compared to government workers. She further stated there has been existence of COVID stigma and discrimination towards people getting effected. There has been wide information gap resulting in isolation of marginalized communities and vulnerable groups of the state
Talking in terms of heath infrastructure, she said it has been extremely poor with even helpline numbers not properly managed, resulting in chaos in providing accurate information to the people. She pointed that there has been mismanagement and lack of preparedness at every level related to providing medical facilities to people.
In terms of policy perspective, she focused upon the fact that the government took the pandemic very lightly with no proper enforcement rules for maintaining social distancing. There also was carelessness observed at a political level during elections.
Dr Sabina Martins pointed that for information to reach last mile, there is need of a mechanism in place to provide information at micro level. Also there is need of having accommodation for people who are not infected to make them isolate from infected people at one point.
Elaborating on her point on domestic violence, she underlined that there should be implementation of a mechanism to address domestic violence where physical intervention is possible.