Imperatives of recognising the complexities: gendered impacts and responses to COVID-19 in India

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This paper argues that the gendered impact of COVID-19 has both visible and hidden dimensions, and both immediate effects linked with lockdowns and longer-term effects that are likely to emerge sequentially in time and affect recovery. Much of the existing feminist literature on the impact of COVID-19 has neglected these complexities and focused mainly on care work and domestic violence. This has diverted attention away from other key concerns such as livelihood loss, food and nutritional insecurity, indebtedness, rising poverty, and the low resilience of most women in developing economies. Even care work and domestic violence have complex facets that tend to be missed. Using examples from India, the paper outlines the kinds of gendered effects we might expect, the extent to which these have been traced in existing surveys, and the data gaps. It also highlights the potential of group approaches in enhancing women’s economic recovery and providing social protection from the worst outcomes of the pandemic—approaches that could guide us towards effective policy pathways for ‘building back better.’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-53
Number of pages23
JournalEconomia Politica
Issue number1
Early online date25 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Building back better
  • COVID-19
  • Direct & indirect effects
  • Gender impact
  • India
  • Rural–urban
  • Surveys & data gaps

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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