The pandemic has exacerbated the woes of working women who are finding it difficult to set boundaries between their professional and domestic lives as lines between the two have blurred due to lockdowns. The work has only increased with them having to manage home as well as work round the clock. There’s no respite and no space. Kashmir Observer talked to some working women about their experiences during the pandemic. We’ve reproduced some of the responses here:
The lockdown has disrupted my normal course of life, my husband is a driver and he’s been homebound. Due to the lockdown, the burden of running our house has fallen on me now. I’m a sanitation worker at GB Pant hospital, I work endlessly but still am unable to make ends meet. My husband has been supportive, he’s doing all the household chores like cooking and cleaning. On top of all this, I’m really worried about my children whose education has suffered. I have three children, two of them take classes on my mobile phone and I teach the youngest one myself. I’m praying that all this subsides and things get better so that we can return to our normal lives.
Sanitation Worker, GB Pant Hospital
Being an educationist and a homemaker at the same time, striking a balance between the two takes effort. Getting up a few hours early to prepare the lectures that need to be delivered has become a new normal routine. Although there is ample time to give, the organization at home is different from what it is like inside the Institutions. It takes a little more effort at home than it is needed in school. Finding a space with no disturbance is challenging as everyone is at home these days. Being a senior lecturer, getting used to the new technology is also challenging.
Senior lecturer J&K Education Department
I am a stay-at-home mom. Although it is not considered a full-time job, it is actually a full time job. I have to be at the beck and call of all at all times, day and night. Earlier, with offices and schools open, I used to get some alone time when everyone was off to work. Now, with everyone at home at all times, I have lost sense of my own self. Not only do I have to manage house chores like before, I need to help my kids with their classes and my husband with his needs as well. My work has increased exponentially and I am still thought of as “free” since I don’t have a typical 9-5 job.
Balancing home and the work environment has proven to be tiring, but with the help of my husband and two daughters, surviving this pandemic as a stay at home working mom has started to become less burdensome. As a teacher working at home has proven to be acrimonious and exhausting, compared to teaching in a setting that is physical. Some of the issues include the fact that I cannot interact with my students freely due to the various technical issues that embody online teaching. Learning how to base our work completely from scratch to thrive in an online environment has proven to be very challenging. This is mainly because most of us face difficulties keeping up with the IT dimension of online teaching as many of us do not possess prior extensive knowledge on the same.
Middle School Teacher
I am a business woman. I run my own boutique. However, it has been a challenge. As a woman who belongs to an affluent family, my in-laws don’t see my work as important. Even though I have not let that get in my way, I’m worried about risking their safety. It is emotionally taxing in two ways. I love them and want them to be safe. It will kill me to see me being the source of danger to them. At the same time, I do not want to be treated in a manner that my work is deemed optional.
Huma* (name changed)
As a mother I feel you have to be extra careful and loving and bear all the tantrums even when I feel like screaming my head off. I am worried for my family. Sometimes I hate going to the hospital but I realise that’s unavoidable, it’s my job and I have to do it.
I’m a resident medical officer at GP pant, since the onset of the pandemic the workload has grown exponentially. As an administrator I have to visit every nook and corner of the hospital. I’m constantly fearful of contracting the virus and passing it on to other people. I have stopped visiting my parents and my in laws for this reason, although my in-laws live in the same compound, but I’m reluctant to pay them a visit. The lack of normal social interaction, the risk of contracting the virus and the workload has definitely taken a toll on us, I’m experiencing a burnout. The affliction and the helplessness that we witness as doctors on a daily basis is emotionally exhausting. I just hope that things get better soon.
RMO, GB Pant Hospital
First of all, working in hospital premises is way more feasible than working at home because we get a chance to interact with patients directly and it is helpful to apply the information practically provided in books. It gives experience both clinically and ethically. But when at home, even when I used to help my mom only when needed, sometimes it becomes difficult to manage both domestic work and studies. Hospital in that sense allows one to remain motivated all the time.
MBBS Intern SKIMS Srinagar
I’m a Vet and had to work during the lockdown. I never stayed home during the pandemic. I lived in constant fear of getting infected and exposing my family to the virus. I felt like a constant threat of infection to my own family and that took a lot of emotional toll on me.
Veterinarian based in UAE
Even though working during covid came with few incentives, I wont discount the fact that it has been a challenging situation as well. Though I get more time to spend with my family members, take part in homemaking, do gardening and deliver classes as per the mutual convenience of my students and me but at the same time staying in contact remotely with my profession is full of ups and downs. I cannot decipher how much my students understand my presentation slides as complete classroom board experience lacks. I sometimes extend my class on zoom beyond 40 mins, but virtual connection doesn’t let me engage with my students at one on one emotional level. Home distractions and surrounding noise adds to the problems but I hope soon in post covid times I will be interacting face to face with my students again.
Lecturer School Education Department
- Compiled by Dania Sheikh, Haris Rashid and Neha Fayaz
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