Women's Day 2021: Women write about their experiences in an unprecedented year of the pandemic

While the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns have been especially hard on women, there are also many stories of resilience, courage and hope that have emerged in these times.

FP Staff March 08, 2021 09:40:59 IST
Women's Day 2021: Women write about their experiences in an unprecedented year of the pandemic

Illustration ©Adrija Ghosh for Firstpost

A UN report from September 2020 on the economic toll of COVID-19 on women, notes that “the impacts of crises are never gender-neutral”. The report delves into the many ways women have been disproportionately affected, financially, by the ongoing pandemic: For instance, industries that predominantly employ women have been worst-affected; women’s paid labour and women-run businesses are hardest hit, and the gender poverty gap is projected to widen.

The impacts of the crisis, however, go far beyond the economic. News stories and surveys have looked at how women are bearing the brunt of childcare and household chores while they work full-time remotely. Isolation and confinement have meant that cases of violence against women are on the rise.

While the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns have been especially hard on women, there are also many stories of resilience, courage and hope that have emerged in these times.

On International Women's Day 2021, we’re launching a series called ‘A Pandemic Year for Women’. These essays have been written by women with varying experiences of the past year, who rose to the challenges of being mothers, artists, healthcare workers, community outreach professionals and entrepreneurs, students, and above all — individuals trying to make their way through an unprecedented time.

These first-hand accounts do not look away from the costs of the crisis, but they look beyond too: to the future, to what is possible, to what still remains to be (and must be) done.

Today, read essays from Skanda, Snehal and Madhuri:

Snehal runs a rural healthcare startup in Bihar, and found that while her team was busy distributing hygiene kits and struggling to keep their hospital going, the people they came in contact with had even more overwhelming concerns — such as how to get their families a proper meal a day. The women Snehal came across were struggling with problems that seem inhumane in their magnitude — which meant that their mental health was given little to no priority. Alongside arranging dry rations for needy families, Snehal’s team was able to set up a grassroots community mental health programme. Snehal contracted COVID-19 , but writes that it was hardly the most momentous thing to happen to her in 2020; instead, it was the newfound purpose and resolve she gained that forms her most significant milestone.

Skanda compares a depressive episode to being a doctor during the pandemic. “The similarities between living through a depressive episode, and negotiating the pandemic as a healthcare worker, are almost laughable in their banality,” she writes, in her essay for Firstpost. Her descriptions of working in a COVID ICU, of the one patient whose story she holds on to as a talisman, of how one persists amid a deadening routine, make for an unforgettable narrative.

And then we have an essay by Madhuri, who discovered she was pregnant in February 2020, and was overjoyed — only to have the pandemic strike the very next month. Her story brings to mind the adage “in the midst of death, we are in life”; Madhuri found a way to mine moments of happiness even as the coronavirus raged around us. It strikes a sweet, life-affirming note in an otherwise bleak time.

If you'd like to read more of these essays, we’ll be publishing them over this coming week — in ‘A Pandemic Year for Women’.

Updated Date:

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