Let Us Reclaim Our Space

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Posted March 7, 2021 from United Kingdom

 

 

♥  Reem's Story 

It is at 3 am. Reem’s fingers busy typing the report on her laptop. The deadline is tomorrow. A mother’s schedule is unpredictable. Her 6 months old baby and the household work keep her busy during the day. At night, she has to focus on her deadlines. It is a continuous struggle, and during the pandemic, her workload doubled. Not everyone could afford childcare.

 

♥  Subbu's Story

Subbu is tired. She is a homemaker. She used to enjoy her own time gardening and stitching while her husband is away for work. Usually, until 3 pm, her children are at school. Now, with the pandemic, everything changed. Currently, her husband is working from home. Children are learning online. She does not have any time left for her. She is always busy cooking, making tea, cleaning or coxing children to do the homework.

 

♥ Mona's Story 

Mona worked as a receptionist in a nearby hotel. Her meagre salary was the only source of income for her ailing mother and her two children. Mona’s husband deserted her two years back. Her only hope was her job in the hotel. Compared to the male staff there, her salary was low. But she did not have an option. But now, the hotel has downscaled its staff, and she was sent home empty-handed. Mona stares at her bleak future, and she does not know where to find another job during the pandemic.

The world is never going to be the same not only for Reem, Subbu and Mona but also for many other women in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Despite the unwavering strength within us, we, women, are still challenged with sex-based discrimination. The pandemic has intensified existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life across the globe.

Hard-won triumphs in female empowerment of the past have been wiped out. The disparities expanded. The pandemic has opened up an abyss between the rich and poor. It has deepened the inequalities between men and women. Women are facing more significant financial and social impact than men, according to studies. This might be because there have been fewer opportunities for women to work, socialise and seek education.

” The pandemic has hurt people living in poverty far harder than the rich and has had particularly severe impacts on women, Black people, Afro-descendants, Indigenous Peoples, and historically marginalised and oppressed communities around the world. Women, and to a higher extent, racialised woman, are more at risk of losing their jobs because of the coronavirus than men.”

A gender-responsive employment recovery: Building back fairer- A report by the International Labour Organisation ( 2020).

The extreme economic and racial disparity has existed in our world for far too long. This pandemic mirrors which groups are privileged and which are disadvantaged. This pandemic’s heaviest price is borne by the people of colour, ethnic minorities, marginalised societies, and women both across and within countries.

“As women take on greater care demands at home, their jobs will also be disproportionately affected by cuts and layoffs. Such impacts risk rolling back the already fragile gains made in female labour force participation, limiting women’s ability to support themselves and their families, especially for female-headed households. In many countries, the first round of layoffs has been particularly acute in the services sector, including retail, hospitality and tourism, where women are overrepresented.”

A gender-responsive employment recovery: Building back fairer- A report by the International Labour Organisation ( 2020).

According to studies, before COVID-19 struck, women were doing three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. And now the ‘unpaid work’ has increased in manifolds.

Workplace and school closures have put extra strain and burden on women and girls. Women are expected to do daily household work in many cultures. Remote working and learning have further increased the pressure. It is estimated that one in three women would experience violence during their lifetimes, under normal circumstances.

Violence against women and girls is increasing globally as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates. A large number of women are said to be trapped in their homes with their abusers because of the restrictions to move and interact. Abuse can be physical, verbal and sexual, and it occurs both in the developed and developing world. Congested homes and limited access to support are aggravating the domestic violence within the communities.

What measures can be taken to reduce the gender gap? Every step counts, and each of us can do something to contribute towards lifting off the burden from women’s shoulders.

 

♥ Place women as leaders and let them make decisions.

Incorporating women’s representation in decision making when policymaking, planning, and implementation processes would bring incredible results. Women alone understand the exclusive issues and sensitivities they undergo. It is essential to give special focus to marginalised and intersectional women’s representation. The world needs women in every unit where decisions are being made.

 

♥  Alternative Imagination of our Economy

Reimagination of the economy and recognising the unpaid work would be incredible. ‘Unpaid care work’ typically refers to everyday chores, like cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping for their own household, care-taking children, elderly, sick, and the disabled. Often in many marginalised clusters, including rural women and homemakers, the labour is disregarded by society. They are often deprived of economic independence. By assigning ‘Unpaid labour’ the expected value financially and ethically, we could reimagine more independent women and a sustainable economy.

 

♥  A system that works for all

This world is not only men’s. We need a system that works for everyone. The system should support the vulnerable, not crushing them further. Gender equality benefits women and men and the economy and society as a whole.

 

♥  Building supportive Networks

Building effective networks enable women to contribute more and have a lasting impact. Networking is about forming close connections with women who have passed the hurdles and achieved the goals. Such women inspire and force you to get out of your comfort zone and broaden your horizons. Supporting women’s ideas and providing platforms for them to experiment contributes to flourishing new enterprises and self-confidence. The supportive networks should be inclusive and respect the diversity to explore unique perspectives. Supporting and investing in women’s ideas will help to close the expanding gender gap.

A supportive network that delivers a platform to new ideas offers mentoring opportunities, promotes women-led initiatives, and connects and inspires women to benefit women and entire generations.

World Pulse is such a supportive network- An amazing platform for women from across the globe to connect and mutually empower each other.

 

We are at a pivotal moment in history. The unfolding world of post-pandemic- Is it a portal for the future for hope and equality or a door to the cave of despair and inequality? The decision is in our hands. Change starts with a single person’s courageous step.

 

This story was submitted in response to #HerStoryMakesHistory.

Comments 6

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Jill Langhus
Mar 08
Mar 08

Hello Shameela, Dear,

How are you doing, dear? I hope you and your family are safe and well. Happy IWD!

Thanks for sharing your post, and so many short biographies, too. I agree with your powerful suggestions.

Hope you have a great week! XX

maeann
Mar 08
Mar 08

Hi Shameela,

How are you? What a joy to celebrate IWD with women around the world. Thank you for sharing the stories of Reem, Subbu and Mona. What a hard work and life. And yes I agree, it's going to be the same but we will make it possible for your kids, so they can have better future.

Anne Dupont
Mar 08
Mar 08

Hi Shameela,
Happy IWD! Women have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and it will take time to regain the ground we have lost during this time. I agree with your call to action and believe we CAN create a better future for our children and for women. Thank you!
Warmly,
Anne

MariaJ Vargas
Apr 01
Apr 01

Shameela thanks very much for this piece. I enjoyed the reading because it gave me so much perspective about how this pandemic is worsening the already damaged status quo for women across the world. As you said it starts with one single step and with taking the decision to help among each others.

nceducator
Jul 15
Jul 15

July 15, 2021. Dear Shameela,
What a well written and insightful article. It will take time, I feel, for the world to heal from the trauma of the Pandemic. In fact, I wonder sometimes if we have even truly grieved the the trauma of the experience. 600,000 deaths in U. S. Shocking!

You state that: "The extreme economic and racial disparity has existed in our world for far too long. This pandemic mirrors which groups are privileged and which are disadvantaged. This pandemic’s heaviest price is borne by the people of colour, ethnic minorities, marginalised societies, and women both across and within countries." And there's another category of people who have been hit hard by the Pandemic: the aged. In U.S., people in nursing homes got slammed first by the virus. In fact, the first major outbreak of Covid 19 happened in Washington State. What happened there was horrifying, as family members were photographed peering through outside windows at their loved ones. Many old people likely died alone.

I am "old" -- 72. But grateful everyday for my health and independence. I pray that the world will "rise up" to a new era of compassion understanding. And this has to start with our world leaders.

Sincerely,
Dana in U. S., North Carolina

Jacqueline Namutaawe

Hello Shameela hope you are well. Thanks for the cases of the different women. It is indeed tough for us as women amidst the pandemic but we hail them for the bounce back and resilience amidst all the turmoil. Stay well.