Saturday, May 15

Women: the year of a thousand plagues | The weekly country

Tatiane is poorer. Like her, Joan lost her job and, like her friends, lives condemned to be a housewife. Garazi had to move in with her mother in order to work and care for her daughter. Andrea passed the confinement to beatings, locked in the same house as her abuser. Klementyna took to the streets to fight for the lost right – abortion – that the Polish government cut in the midst of the COVID. Tlaleng had to step in to keep family planning centers in her country, South Africa, open. Six women in whose lives thousands could be reflected. The progress of half the world’s population has suffered a severe setback with the pandemic. They assume more of the burden of precarious work and take care of unpaid care, they are more exposed to poverty and violence, they have less representation and voice in the spheres of power, and they have seen that there are conquered rights that are fading, such as the achieved in the field of sexual and reproductive health. The Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, warned of the ravages as early as October 2020: “Unless we act now, covid-19 could erase a generation of fragile progress towards gender equality ”. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, this March 8, we have brought together six protagonists who fight from different parts of the world the effects that this first year of the health crisis is having in a particular way in the lives of women.

They are in the front line to fight the virus: 7 out of 10 health workers and caregivers are women, according to the analysis carried out by the UN at the end of 2020. They are the majority in the informal economy and also in the battered service sector. Among them, tourism, which has gone from one hundred to zero with confinements and restrictions all over the planet. The Brazilian Tatiane Araujo, a tourist guide who has reinvented herself in recent months to survive, lived it in her own skin. “My sector has no guarantee that it will return in 2023,” says Rio de Janeiro in a vacuum. They have been expelled from the labor market to a greater extent than they, with three points more in Latin America.

Precarious jobs and those neither recognized nor paid dominate: the care of children and the elderly and the weight of the home. In all tasks at home – cleaning, childcare and education, cooking and shopping – women have increased their dedication time more than men, warns the UN. In times of crisis, this dedication takes them out of the labor market or forces them to juggle to be able to combine the outside work with the one that awaits them when they finish their day. The Spanish Garazi Olaziregi has not stopped running. In confinement, this computer engineer and single mother lived in a continuum without distinction of time or space to attend to her profession and her daughter, Ada, who is now two years old: “There were no schedules, everything did not matter to me. If Ada slept, I would go to work. I took a shower when I could, I was exhausted, ”she admits. He moved in with his mother. “The conciliation is still science fiction.”

Filipina Joan Humawid, a psychologist, married and mother of a girl, lost her job at an electrical company in November. He says they are giving priority to men for the few jobs there are. Both she and the women around her live in fear of a setback: “It condemns us to be housewives again because society also judges us if we work with a family.” UN Women estimates that in 2021 there will be almost 435 million poor women, 11% more than if the pandemic had not existed.

In Mexico, the country where 10 women are murdered every day, Andrea Ene lived locked up with her abuser, with the man who wanted to kill her. He confined himself to his room to try to save his life and that of his children. The National Network of Refuges of Mexico has increased its rescues by 300% in the last year. The UN sees the increase in violence as another global public health problem, a “shadow pandemic.” “We are particularly concerned about young women, about the number of adolescents who have become pregnant during the confinement, those who will not return to school, the increase in trafficking of girls,” warned the director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

There has also been a setback in advances in sexual and reproductive health. In some cases, as in Poland, fought and contested on the streets. Activist Klementyna Suchanow was arrested for standing up to the government and its multiple attempts to restrict abortion. The lockdowns, the closure of clinics and the lack of materials and personnel have undermined family planning services, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). They indicate that 47 million women were without access to contraception in 114 low- and middle-income countries in the first six months of the crisis. South African doctor Tlaleng Mofokeng runs an abortion clinic: “They make us and our bodies a problem, and we are not.” She, as rapporteur for the UN, will document the loss of sexual and reproductive rights due to the pandemic.


The Rio guide that reinvented itself with virtual ‘tours’

Care and conciliation

The stress of breastfeeding your daughter and managing an emergency at work

Sexual health

The crucial mission of Dr. T


A Polish activist against the theft of the right to abort

Employment inequality

Joan Humawid’s job was taken away by a man

Sexist violence

Confinement was the cage where Andrea lived with the man who abused her

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