For women, COVID-19 pandemic means cleaner air, less runny noses, more work, still no pay.
Imagine what the global economy would be like now if women were to be paid for their domestic work during the global stay safe at home regime. Women’s work is never done. Now there is much more work. Still there is no pay.
by Sharon Santiago
Women. Job description: Home school educator, child care, food services management, household chores, sanitation manager, personal hygiene trainer, home management, family medical care giver, elder care, emotional support to the family and official nurturer, plus general home organization management.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), women in its member nations spend about 4.5 hours per day on average doing substantial unpaid work. That’s compared with 137 minutes, or slightly more than two hours, for men.
Traditional Women’s maternal and reproductive health services are gone during the Pandemic
In the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, nurses with The Nurses Without Borders say that they are treating women in their local communities where the neighbours by word of mouth know that they are health care workers. Retired doctors in many cases have reopened their practice to assist women in their community.
The pandemic lock downs around the world come in different forms. In many countries, it is illegal to leave one’s home unless one has a pass from local authorities to go to the grocery store or pharmacy.
UN Women are reporting, “increased risk of sexual exploitation and violence by police and armed guards at border controls and community check points”.
Another problem facing women during the stringent lock downs is heightened risk of psychological and physical violence to women migrant workers (Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs)) who lost their jobs and are no longer able to support their families or their men.
Women are concerned about their elderly adult parents. Many single women have moved in with a friend.
Adult Living Arrangements are a threat to elderly parents.
In some countries like Canada, Quebec province especially, and in Italy, working-age people live with their parents, and the younger people may be fetching the SARS2 virus home, spreading it to elderly parents.
On the average, 50% of European adults aged 18-34 live at home with their parents. More than 65 percent of Italians aged 18 to 34 live at home with their parents, and nearly three quarters of them are men, according to the latest information from Eurostat. This data is mostly from 2018 as not all information for 2019 has been updated.
Nearly 55 percent of young adults, aged 18 to 24, still live at home in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sixteen percent of American adults aged 25 to 34 still live at home. They are not abiding the current stay safe at home regime and are killing their elderly family members according to current US statistics.
A collection of thoughts from women surveyed by FPMag
What are the most significant benefits of the current Pandemic Stay Home edicts.
- There are some significant impacts to closing the schools like reduced travel in morning and afternoon traffic hence fewer scraped knees from bicycle incidents and other minor mishaps, plus no serious traffic incidents. Every school year there was always something.
- The head lice are gone.
- No more teacher and parent/teacher meetings to add to an already insane schedule.
- The children are not coming home sick and spreading illness to the rest of the family.
- The family is healthier.
Q. Are there any other benefits during the pandemic?
- A group of parents in Toronto responded with a statement. “We have taught our adults, especially grandparents, and taught the children to wear fit-tested respirator masks because that is what the future holds for them. Respiratory disease and pollution much greater (mostly double) the danger level of 12µg/m³ of toxic particulate is what governments have failed to protect the public from. Especially in North America, the governments are telling whopping lies about the dangers of pollution and climate change.” Yes. Wear a mask. Wear an N95 and be climate conscious.
- From Indonesia, the consensus is, “We will all be safe from the virus if we are at home and being careful.”
- Finally everyone is learning how to properly wash their hands, said one mother and many agreed on a WhatsApp group conversation. “Even the toddlers and the husbands a little more,” was received with a lot of agreement and chuckles.
- The air in the garden is cleaner.
- Plants are healthier.
- One more inducement has been added to the demand for hand washing before meals. “Wash the virus off your hands or we’ll all die,” was one joking response.
Q. Does the pandemic “stay home stay safe” regime add to your work?
- It is necessary to provide health care out in the community by preparing food and other support services caring for the sick and mobility-challenged members of our communities plus other functions like sharing women’s hygiene products which like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and rubbing alcohol have vanished from stores.
- Caring for family members with chronic illness is more difficult because with the health care systems focused entirely on COVID-19 illness in most countries, there is no back-up advice or care.
- The center point woman of the family is the sole medical caregiver for illness other than COVID-19, unless there is a retired elderly doctor returning to practice or a nurse in the neighbourhood.
- The kids are home and there are more snack meals to prepare plus more home schooling.
- The children are bickering more and require more supervision as their only play times are with siblings.
- Keeping the children exercised and getting sunshine each day is a challenge to find suitable and sustainable activity schedules.
- In some instances, home is not the safest place for women and children where physical abuse and sexual violence have been an issue and the perpetrator (s) is still present.
Q. Are husbands contributing more now that they are home?
That question has huge variance in response. These are anecdotal:
- “No but he spends more time with the children and tries to exercise authority which doesn’t work so the children run to mother who thought she had a moment to do the laundry.”
- “According to my friends I speak to n the phone many more husbands are washing their hands after they pee, or at least washing one hand.”
- This is a common one: “My husband is delighted to spend more time with the children. He is always running to me saying ‘do you know what the baby just did’. It’s a delightful opportunity for discovery and enjoyment if men actually get involved.”
- Not all men get involved and many women say their husbands find excuses to leave the house much the same as they did when they were working. This varies with cultural traditions. Most of the world has become very misogynous during the pandemic.