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Study focuses on Covid’s ‘devastating’ impact on women in low-income households across 10 states

They are also taking longer to re-enter the workforce after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the study found.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: July 5, 2021 9:15:23 pm
The report, which covered the March-October period last year, found about a tenth of the women surveyed saying they ate less or had run out of food.

As the effects of Covid-19 deepen, women, particularly the estimated 27 crore women in low-income group in India, are experiencing unique hardships and setbacks to their recovery, even while serving as lifelines to their communities and as frontline workers through the pandemic.

A new study ‘Impacts of Covid-19 on women in low-income households in India’, which focuses on women and prioritises recovery efforts to support them, was conducted by Dalberg, a social impact advisory group, and its result was released on Monday. The study was concluded with support from Ford Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The research, conducted through telephonic surveys from October 20 to November 14 last year, and triangulated where relevant with other surveys, encapsulates their experience living through the world’s longest lockdown from March 24 to May 31, 2020, and the following months from June through October 2020.

The respondents were selected from 10 states — Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, representing 63 per cent of the population in low-income households across India.

Among the key findings of the study was that women made up just 24 per cent of earners before the pandemic but represent 43 per cent of those yet to recover their work.

Authors of the report said they estimated that nearly 8.7 million (87 lakh) women working before the pandemic remained out of the workforce as of October 2020. During the lockdown, they found that on an average, women had lost two-thirds of their meagre incomes.

Swetha Totapally, partner at Dalberg Advisors and the author of the report, said, “The impact of the pandemic on women in India is both devastating and unsurprising. Our study offers hope. It is clear that government entitlements have proved indispensable in helping women navigate the crisis so far. Our findings demonstrate how such help can be even more responsive to the needs of specific segments, and they show how support can be re-imagined for the longer term.”

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