'Gendered division of labour in households’ especially during COVID-19 lockdown


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Empower people has come up with another thought-provoking discussion about division of labour during the lockdown. This discussion brings in other issues of major importance. Dr Savithiri Subramanian shares her opinion on this topic and draws our attention to the core reasons behind such an unequal division. Mr Daniel, Ms Olga and Ms Sumati share their own experiences and opinions on the same.

 Dr Savithiri talks about paid and unpaid labour. It is evident that most of the unpaid labour falls in the hands of women. Unpaid labour comprises of cooking, housekeeping and caretaking. ILO, from the data collected from 64 countries has stated that unpaid workers up to 16.4 billion hours per day. For a population of 2 billion people, this would result in 8 hours of work per day. Moreover, from the research done by the UN, WHO and other human welfare organizations, we come to know that 30% of a countries GDP could be contributed by unpaid work. All these workloads are often carried by women. This makes them contribute less when it comes to paid work. Cultural norms become a valid reason for such an unequal division of labour. Guilt often resides upon men who do household chores.

 Women of all age groups are forced to do household works unless they become physically weak. From earlier times, women's contribution becomes unrecognized. Their contribution to agriculture, fuel collection, fetching water and much more become invisible

 During this lockdown, the condition has worsened. Women bear the extra burden. They become responsible for taking care of their family members who get home quarantined. Lack of hospital facilities during the pandemic worsens the condition of people suffering from other ailments. It becomes the duty of women at home to take care of them. Most of the times, women don't take the necessary precautions and put their health at stake. A film directed by Nandita Das, " listen to her,  portrays the amount of workload a working woman bears and the violence she faces.

 The impact of such a burden on women results in physical and mental illness. They lose their opportunity and fail to devote time for paid work outside. They are unable to work with full potential. 

 The only way to tackle this is to recognize unpaid work. Women need to be trained to equip themselves with protection and be safe while taking care of sick people. Childcare centres could be opened to aid women with their workload. The government should approach women enterprises for masks and other basic needs during the lockdown.

 Mr Daniel from Germany feels good to share with us the equality among men and women that have rooted in Germany from 1960s onwards. This gives us hope that change is possible in our country too.

 Ms Olga shares her experience where she takes up her husband's work along with her's. She also takes care of household work. In spite of all extra work, women are not paid more than men.

 Ms Sumati brings into light the most important insight of deconstruction of the expectations. Presence of stereotypical ideologies with regard to household works can never bring up a change. Our culture has always stressed upon the idea of women and girls performing household works and not the men and boys.

 According to me, changes start from within. Hence it is the duty of each and every parent to assign equal works for their sons and daughters. We must start from the micro-level and steadily move towards a change in the macro level.

Compiled by: Oviya E

Date: 29 May 2020




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