Fired 1st Over COVID Must be Hired 1st: Why Economies Need Women

Four out of ten women lost their jobs during the pandemic. Dr Ranjana Kumari explains why this must not be ignored.

2 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

At least four out of ten women in India lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, reveals an analysis of the latest Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) data. An estimated 17 million women have been left jobless, in both the formal and informal sectors, between March and April 2020, owing to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

Backing the statistics, Dr Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research, told The Quint that “women were the first to be fired, and must be the first to be hired back.”

“Now it is conclusively proved that the economic slowdown and loss of jobs have affected women more severely and adversely. A lot of women have lost their jobs. They were the first ones to be fired. Women should be the first ones to be hired – that should be the plan.”
Dr Ranjana Kumari

If not carefully implemented and stressed at the policy level, Kumari says, women might never get the opportunity back to be employed.


How to Keep Women in Workforce?

Data shows that over 100 million men lost jobs as against 17 million women. But the impact is larger for women as 39% of them reported themselves as unemployed during March-April 2020, against 29% men.

“I think unless we agree upon 50 percent employment for women in every which initiative that it is be taken, it is not going to work. In the agriculture sector, it is important to pay attention to wages. If women and men are not getting the same wages then that needs to be fixed first. You cannot run any economy without women, forget the Indian economy.”
Dr Ranjana Kumari

And beyond economy, Kumari adds, it is most important to see the pandemic through gendered lens.

“Nobody had paid attention to women suffering from domestic violence during the lockdown till the UN and the WHO recognised it and said that this is a pandemic within the pandemic. Women are really locked down within the lockdown. They have absolutely no space to be able to complain to go to someone.”
Dr Ranjana Kumari

She suggests that moving forward and creating an exit strategy from the lockdown, the government needs to create infrastructure, where women can go to short-stay homes, avail free counselling for survivors of abuse.

“This crisis, when it was planned to be governed by different nations, nobody thought through this crisis through the gender lens and as a result, what has happened today is that we are seeing women suffering – much more than others are suffering in society,” said Kumari.

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