Women in India have taken the brunt of the pandemic, if the report of a survey by Women in Technology ACE, India, is to be believed. The report titled, ‘Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Indian female workforce’, reveals that about 65 per cent professional women saw their careers being negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, while an alarming 86 per cent reported an increase in their domestic responsibilities. Of the respondents —belonging to the 21 to 55 age range —a good 74 per cent agree that women have been more adversely affected by the pandemic than men. Also, 73 per cent admit that the pandemic has had an extremely negative effect on mental health and productivity. While 49 per cent of those surveyed felt that both men and women had to put in extra efforts and contribute equally, 49 per cent felt the load was more on the women.
That is not all. The burden of unpaid care has also gone up by 30 per cent as it is the women who primarily shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the elderly in the house, as well as their spouses and children, in addition to other household chores.
If the disproportionate effect on women’s employment is not addressed on an urgent basis, global GDP may dip by about $1 trillion in the next ten years.
However, the positive thing is that, post the pandemic, employers will be more willing to implement policies supportive of women professionals, including flexibility and work-from-home. About 35 per cent of those surveyed were already availing the work-from-home facility.
On the other hand, 12 per cent of those surveyed pointed out that with personal and face-to-face interaction having been reduced, there will be an adverse effect on the growth of prospects of women professionals. Fifty per cent of those with 20 to 25 years of experience believe that without personal interaction and direct mentorship, aspiring women, especially those at the junior levels, will find it difficult to grow in their careers.
At the same time, there will be lesser worry about biases about men being primary bread winners affecting them.
Women are expected to face more challenges when it comes to prioritising and managing bandwidth. About 61 per cent of the participants felt that the economy will improve, but were not hopeful of the same level of improvement in their own situations. Only 40 per cent feel their personal situation will improver, while 20 per cent feel there will be no change. In fact, 20 per cent feel the condition of the economy will deteriorate further and so will their own personal situation.
Women in Technology India, a social impact organisation founded in 2020, aims to empower women and ensure gender equality in industry, with a focus on STEM.
Women in India only contribute to 18 per cent of the GDP, even though the country has the largest population of women, at 612 million (32 per cent of the entire region).