The pandemic and the economic crisis pose a real threat to the gains women have made in previous decades.
In reference to the rise in domestic chores and family care, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia warns that “the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 25 years of increasing gender equality” and it poses “a real risk of reverting to 1950’s gender stereotypes.”
Before the onset of the pandemic, women were on average doing three times more unpaid work than men, and this inequality has only grown in the last year.
The childcare crisis, with daycare closures and distance learning, has piled even more work onto parents’ shoulders, with mothers in particular forced to cut back on hours or quit their jobs altogether to stay home with their kids.
Time out of the workforce for childcare is one of the key reasons behind the gender wage gap, and women will be paying for this childcare crisis for years to come in lost wages and lost opportunities for advancement on the job.
But it’s not just job loss and inequality that have worsened for women. In every country, there has been a huge increase in intimate partner violence, with many women left isolated at home with their abuser in what has been described as the shadow pandemic.
But while things have been getting worse, women have been fighting back.
The mass women’s movement in Argentina won legal abortion, and huge crowds have turned out to protest the new abortion ban in Poland, including mass protests this International Women’s Day. Women were at the forefront of uprisings in Thailand and Belarus to bring down reactionary governments. Healthcare workers, mainly women, have been on strike in many countries against decades of cuts and for pay raises. #MeToo has spread to the Balkans and China due to the widespread anger against sexual assault.
As a member of Socialist Alternative, Kshama is proud to be in political solidarity with International Socialist Alternative, which is helping to build the international socialist feminist struggle with members protesting and organizing actions in Ireland, Russia, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, Poland, and more.
Millions of women across the world have protested today for International Women’s Day 2021, including demonstrations in Italy led by the Non Una di Meno movement against structural violence and for economic independence; protests in the Philippines demanding the resignation of far right, authoritarian President Duterte; hunger strikes and rallies led by women farmers in India against Prime Minister Modi’s neoliberal attacks on agriculture; and a massive march against femicide in Mexico City.