Framework needed to help women on frontlines

Speakers say govt needs to support female entrepreneurs, workers

News Desk June 30, 2020

Amidst the global novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which has infected over 205,000 people and caused 4,167 associated deaths in the country, the government has tried to accommodate several sectors. But there is still a need to develop a new framework for women who are fighting on the frontlines against the virus.

This was stated by participants of a webinar on “Covid-19 chronicles: women’s perspective”. The webinar had been organised by the Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) on Monday to analyse how the virus had impacted women and to allow the respective authorities to respond to their vulnerabilities.

CGSS Director Mehreen Gul highlighted the significant role that women play in our society and nation-building.

University of Punjab Institute of Applied Psychology Director Dr Rafia Rafique stated that as the pandemic continues to spread in Pakistan, it is necessary to recognise the immediate and long-term psychological needs of women, who make up half of the entire population.

Women, Dr Rafique said, are stuck at home while being exposed to their abusers for long periods with limited options and access to essential services. Clinical management and psycho-social support, she said, was harder to access during the lockdown for women already facing mental health challenges.

Kaana Aidarkul, the chairperson of the Kyrgyz Association of Women in the security sector of Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the condition of women during the pandemic there. She pointed to the central role of women in combating the pandemic and that women should be assigned leading roles with equal representation and equal decision-making authority.

Kazakhstan Embassy First Secretary Kempirbayeva Dilyara stressed on the importance of discussing women issues during the pandemic.

On one hand, she said women carry the cradle and on the other, she carries the world. She pointed to the measures taken by the Kazakh government to ensure the safety of its citizens while assisting the people to cope with the pandemic.

England based lawyer Faiza Sheikh stated that women in Pakistan make up more than half of the frontline workers. Moreover, they play a central role whether in education or health.

A framework, she said, must be devised to facilitate these women. She highlighted the contribution of women healthcare workers, doctors, nurses and paramedics in this crucial time.

Nigar Javanshirzade, the project manager for “Chamomile” - an Azerbaijani Diaspora Women’s Network, highlighted the ways to help women during the Covid-19 lockdown.

She asked families to play an active role in managing the household chores to reduce the load on women. She also discussed how Azerbaijan is assisting its people by reducing the tax burden for entrepreneurs, providing financial assistance and even direct social support.

China Media Group Senior Correspondent Wang Qianting stated that women from the service industry have suffered the most. However, the government has introduced supportive policies for those who have lost their jobs.

Dilnoza Odilbekova, from the association of businesswomen in Uzbekistan, discussed the impacts of the pandemic on women working in the business sector and those women who own businesses. Her government, too, has been helping women entrepreneurs cope with the economic crisis.

Ramma Shahid, the founder of the organisation Beti, stated that during the Covid-19 pandemic, many women have lost their jobs, especially those with smaller businesses.

In such a time, she said that they have been providing moral and legal support to women who need assistance.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2020.

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