Things repeat if you journal every day for more than a year. This, for example, is my second International Women’s Day. Last year, I wrote of ‘… stories out there about the hordes of women trapped into unrecognised care roles. You know these women. They are your sisters and your daughters for whom these roles are harder to accept than for your wife, mother and grander-mothers.’
A year of the Covid-19 pandemic has done untold damage to the rights and aspirations of 50% of the global population. Some countries report that women have dropped out of the global work force at about three times the rate of men.
The UN estimated that women did 75% of all unpaid work done each day around the world. This was a few years before Covid-19.
The burden for care and social support is carried by women. The UN has estimated that even in the most egalitarian countries, women do almost twice as many chores as men. In Japan that’s times 5. In Egypt, it’s times 9.
Their burden has grown during the pandemic. Who does the homeschooling, for example?
So women haven’t just dropped out of the ‘work’ force, they’ve dropped back into an indentured ‘labour’ regime without reward. Unpaid, many women will loose their self-actualisation and may even loose their self esteem in order to maintain the roles and connections that support families.
The crisis appears to have facilitated a return to the patriarchal model of society that has dominated and subjugated at least half of humankind for millennia. The pandemic would appear to have eroded women’s opportunities for equality.
At a zoom discussion I attended this evening, it was pointed out that to be able to roam is to have freedom. And it seems to me that the right to freedom of speech confers the right roam. If one gender is being re-tethered to home and social chores, no matter the urgent, once in a lifetime need, why are women doing it for free? Why is there so little protest and no rebellion?
I don’t have a lot more to say but I should declare my interests. I was born to a woman, married a woman, have three daughters and three grand-daughters. I can see that women’s equity in the societies I inhabit have been steadily improving across those four generations. But equality is elusive and our perception of it is like the engraving in the rear view mirrors of American vehicles; ‘objects in the mirror are closer than they appear’.
Azerbaijan introduced universal suffrage in 1918, the Vatican still doesn’t allow it. Portugal gave women a vote in 1976, thirteen years after Iran did the same.
Commenting on the pandemic’s impact on women, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia said that ‘Everything we worked for, that has taken 25 years, could be lost in a year’. Others suggest that 25 years of progress was erased in the first 6 months.
I worry about inequality and the rights of women in two years of pandemic. You might check back this day next year since I think we are only half way through this pandemic.