Social inequalities amidst a pandemic

Loura Al Alanezi is a Politics (BA) student. She is from Kuwait, and she reports on the topics of poverty, mobility, security and conflict. Her hobbies include reading books and painting.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had a negative impact on a variety of factors in our lives, though it can be said that women had faced- and are still currently facing- a disproportionate amount of social and financial inequalities. The lack of social services exacerbated these social inequalities. With the constant pressure to maintain the household and be responsible for childcare, some women have been forced to decrease their hours of work. Flexible jobs and informal work became a more frequent and common option. This resulted in furthering financial inequality. 

The traditional idea of motherhood- (one that is outdated and certainly misogynistic to a certain extent)- inculcates the notion that mothers are primarily responsible for childcare, with the father figure being secondary or perhaps even absent. This has created an expectation for mothers to be constant providers of emotional and financial support, and between juggling responsibilities and tasks at work and being on top of childcare might place extreme amounts of stress on women, particularly if the financial capabilities of the household is a source of concern as well. Men’s jobs and pay have been prioritised more than women’s pay, which is an unfortunate fact that is still practised in a lot of institutions. Regardless of whether the women in a relationship earns more or has a higher professional position than her male partner, critics who favour the traditional ‘ideals’ of women would still believe the male to be the breadwinner and the ‘head of the household’.

With childcare and household chores, time and job flexibility is an important aspect of jobs for women. Job inflexibility is one of the main reasons female employees are considered reducing their hours or even leaving their jobs. Flexible jobs tend to be lower-paid with less benefits, and can also hinder the possibility of obtaining job promotions. Therefore, flexible jobs tend to result in employees being underemployed and underpaid. 

These difficulties – less time for paid work, education, and career advancement- fuels existing economic and social inequalities. The pandemic is making this existing problem more visible, and a bigger challenge for girls and women. Informal jobs became a more frequent option for women- there are currently 740 million women globally who hold informal jobs. In developing economies, 70 percent of women’s employment is informal work. When there are economic difficulties or complications though, these jobs are usually prone to be eliminated first.

Domestic abuse increased as support services struggled with decreased rates of services and shut-downs. Crowded homes, substance abuse, limited access to services and reduced peer support are exacerbating these conditions. There have already been staggering increases in domestic violence levels since quarantine measures have been enacted. There has been also a 7% growth in police-recorded domestic abuse crimes in the United Kingdom. There was a 65% increase of calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline compared to the first three months of 2020.

There should be more reforms to protect women from these inequalities. There should also be further equality for distribution of household and childcare to ease the pressures women are enduring. Further social services to provide economic and social alleviation for women who face different issues such as poverty to domestic abuse are also needed. A range of organisations- such as Hestia– provide safe shelter for women and children who have undergone domestic abuse. 









[Featured image sourced from Vector Art at Vecteezy]

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