The invisible face of the fallout | The Hindu

2020-04-21 | 4 minutes

Context:  Two organizations of UN, UN women and UNHCR have talked about violence against women during corona virus or COVID-19 lockdown.


  • On 6 April 2020, UN women has said that action plan on COVID 19 must include measures to control gender violence. UN women has referred gender violence as a shadow pandemic.
  • UN women has said that during one year before lockdown, the number of women and girls in the 15-49 age group who faced violence of sexual or physical nature by their intimate partner stood at nearly 243 million (24.3 crore).
  • UN women has also said the new data coming out since lock down, domestic violence cases has increased significantly in many countries with lockdown.
  • Some of these countries are France (30% increase since the date of lockdown, 17 March), Argentina, Cyprus, Singapore, U.K. and U.S.
  • On 20 April 2020, UNHCR has said that refugee, displaced and stateless women and girls are at greater risk of gender violence and abuse.
  • UNHCR also asked for including measures against gender violence of displaced woman in action plans against COVID 19. It suggested that services for gender violence should be declared as essential services.

Examples of crises and their affect on women: Different crises affect employment of women as they traditionally work in certain limited and specific sectors of economy. After calamity, women provide care to victims. This limits their job opportunities. Women are subjected to more wage cuts during economic slowdown, which may be the consequence or fallout of the crises. Tornadoes in USA affect women-headed families more. Two India centric examples and their affect on women are given below 

Indian Ocean Tsunami:

  • Killing of women due to caregiver role and lack of survival skills: Out of nearly 2 lakh people affected by 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, approximately 50,000 were women. This was mainly due to traditional role that women play as care giver of family members. Additionally, they do not have survival skills like swimming and climbing.


  • Difficulties of woman in relief camps: In relief camps, women face difficulties such as abuse by men, poor hygiene and sanitation Due to Tsunami or any other crisis, disproportionate death of women results into imbalanced ratio of men and women in population.

2018-19 floods in Kerala: Restoration of livelihood and assets were in focus during relief measures carried after the floods. As a result, women were forced to prepare food in open air and domestic work done by them was not noticed. But, the work was significant as it helped families overcome from the crisis caused by floods.

Issues faced by women due to COVID-19:

As health workers: Currently, women form more than two third of health workers and 80% of nurses all over the world. So, women are more vulnerable to the risk of COVID-19 as they regularly deal with it as a major part of global health care system. More than 10 lakh women are part of the Indian health care system as accredited social health activist (ASHA) workers and are vulnerable to the pandemic. It has been reported that several ASHAs were attacked when they were working against COVID-19.

As an employee and work from home (WFH) worker: Due to increase in WFH during lockdown, women face additional work in the form of traditional household work and office work at home. This can bring them under pressure. The lockdown is adding to hormone-caused depression, which affects women more than men. In society, there is lack of awareness about the causes of more depression in women.  

Domestic violence and abuse: Many people in low income groups are losing jobs due to lockdown and as a result men are staying at home and tensed. This may increase domestic violence and abuse against women. Out of the 587 crime against women complaints received by National Commission for Women during 23 March to 16 April, 239 complaints were of domestic violence. National Family Health Survey 2015-16 data show that 30% of Indian women aged 15-49 deal with domestic violence.

Way forward:

COVID-19 pandemic poses economical, social and psychological risks to woman. So, there is need to address women related issues such as domestic violence and their safety at work and home. This should be done through by involving women’s organisations and using technology.

Mains Question:

COVID-19 pandemic as a global crisis poses economical, social and psychological risks to woman. Discuss its effects on women. (200 words)


UN women:

  • It was formed in July, 2010.
  • It started functioning in January 2011.
  • It is also a member of United Nations Development Group.
  • It is governed by its executive board.
  • It provides support to UN member states and the commission on status of the woman.
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women comes under its mandate.
  • It aims to enhance works of other UN systems such as UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA.