Issues faced by rural women

  • Burden of unpaid work: First, the burden of unpaid care work under the second wave increased significantly for rural women. Women in rural India spend five hours per day on unpaid care work, as opposed to an hour spent by men.
  • Dearth of healthcare facility: The paucity of health infrastructure combined with the intensity of the second wave implied that women had to withdraw from paid work to take care of ailing family members.
  • Lack of safe transport: Rural women find their mobility more constrained than ever before, making access to markets and workplaces difficult. Even before the pandemic, venturing outside villages, especially after dark, was an odious task for women.
  • Disempowered: Women farmers saw their agricultural produce go to waste as they were unable to sell at mandis and nearby markets. Fisherwomen in the coastal areas were also unable to carry on fishing and undertake subsequent sales of their catch.
  • Less jobs: The availability of MGNREGA jobs, which served as a lifeline for rural women, declined following the first wave of Covid-19.
    • In 2020-21, rural women formed 51 per cent of all persons employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, with the budget for the scheme receiving an allocation of Rs 1.1 lakh crore thanks to increased funding under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.
  • The industries with women-intensive employment, which were already on a slower recovery path, saw demand collapse under the second wave
  • Replaced by returning migrants: Rural women are being displaced by returning male migrant workers in agriculture. Nearly 30 million came back to their villages during lockdown last year and have stayed back.