ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19 and Women’s Labour Crisis: Reiterating an Inclusive Policy Response

The covid-19 pandemic in India has had an unequal impact on women in a number of ways. In terms of economic opportunity, it has been seen that more women lost jobs compared to men and fewer have been able to rejoin labour force. This is in the context of gendered labour markets where female labour force participation has been low and declining. This paper presents an analysis of the situation of women’s employment pre-lockdown and some indications on what the impact of Covid-19 could be, based on microstudies and other literature available. Further, the adequacy of the social protection and employment generation programmes of the government that are specifically aimed at improving female labour force participation is assessed.


For women, who have been marginalised in most parts of the developing world throughout the period of globalisation, the pandemic has significantly increased the unequal nature of development. There is ample evidence which shows that women are more adversely affected than men by the social and economic effects of infectious disease outbreaks. They bear the greater brunt of household and care responsibilities, such as closure of schools, caring for the sick and elderly family members, and they are also at greater risk of domestic violence. Women remain disproportionately disadvantaged by reduced access to healthcare services and are deprived of proper nutritional intake during pandemics that impact food security provisions of the population (Wenham 2020).

A pandemic that translates itself into an economic crisis has the potential to push women out of the labour force through several mechanisms. An economic crisis creates pressure on governments to cut down on social sector expenditures which potentially increases the burden of unpaid care and household work for women. As a result, women’s time for engaging in productive work gets reduced, having a negative impact on their labour force participation.

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Updated On : 25th Apr, 2021
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