Women are among the worst to suffer from the lockdown due to Covid-19. They are expected to cater more to the demands of all family members, giving them little time to rest. More so, there has been increase in cases of domestic violence. Women’s public mobility, already reduced, have further shrunk.
These thoughts came in a focused-group discussion (FGD) hosted by Islamic Research Institute of Social Sciences (IRISS) on “Impact of Covid-19 on Women” in Karachi on June 10, 2020. Women from academia, medicine, police, law and media, as well as housewives and single mothers shed light their experiences and offered solutions to mitigate the negative impacts and turned challenges into opportunities.
Starting off, IRISS Research Coordinator, Dur-re Sadaf Eemaan, said IRISS, which has been working for addressing social issues in society, has been on the forefront in creating awareness on Covid-19. She said that research estimates around 59% women have been subjected to domestic violence globally from restrictive measures. The discussion meant to bring the experiences in Pakistan.
The discussion started with Ms. Rabia saying that while COVID-19 has strengthened family relations, lockdown have resulted in problems for females. These view were endorsed by others too. Dr Ayesha said initially family unions were appreciated, but with time, as cases increased, so did concerns. Fear escalated.Women lost their resting time, as they had to look after several things all at once.
Workload increase in other professions too. Advocate Reema Khan said those languishing in jails needed special attended. Resultantly, pressure has increased on legal profession. As with other professions, workload has increased on them.
Police Inspector Ms. Haleema said not everything was positive inside families. The cases of domestic violence have increased, evident from the complaints. The fear of disease has also created uncertainty in the society.
Dr. Warisha said initially healthcare provides were lauded for their work, but later people started doubting their sincerity. Conspiracy theories took round on social media. This turned into various violent events and attacks on healthcare providers, especially women.
Speakers also criticized online teaching, saying children are not learning. The problem is more crucial or women in rural areas where internet and electricity facilities are not at par with urban areas. This has further increased worries of women about their children’s education.
Aalima Mughisa, who is running a Hifz institute in North Karachi, said the Covid-19 has strengthened family and now women spend less time on shopping, have less mobility, which is good for them. But students are not coming, who will lag with time. Ms. Kulsoom said that meetings are not done in Karachi University. This has affected higher education badly.
Sheher Bano, a journalist, said that working women found time in their lives to attend to their children and family. Yet because all members are inside homes, women are finding it handle pressure of home and office at the same time. Their working hours have rather extended this way; they have to work extra to meet deadlines, as they are at times busy with home chores during the office hours. On a positive side, they do not have to commute daily for long hours. Time is mostly consumed at home. No one was prepared. Much of the budget is now spent to keep home going. Many people have already been laid off, due to limitation in budget.
Khadija, a single mother, said single mothers undertake the responsibilities of two parents at a time. COVID-19 has increased financial crises, due to which mothers have to work extra hard. But that translates into less communication with their children and reduced monitoring of their activities, which in turn can have negative impact in the longer run.
The session ended with there commendations to address the impact of Covid-19 on women. Click here for detailed report.