The pandemic impacted women’s employment, and affected their mental and physical health. However, it’s also improved their investment skills and made them more financially independent.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indian Women

Women have been dealing with challenges across all spheres of life, and the lockdowns necessitated by the ongoing pandemic has imposed even greater burdens. They have been greatly impacted on account of the economic slowdown as well, but there are some positive takeaways too. Let’s take a look at how the pandemic has affected women in terms of their employment, work-from-home challenges, investment skills, and more.

  • Employment: Women have suffered disproportionately when it comes to pay cuts and job losses. The unemployment rate for women at 17% is more than double that of men. While most men have been able to get some form of employment as of November 2020, almost 49% of women still remain unemployed compared to data from 2019-20 as per CMIE.1
  • Work-from-home challenges: A sudden shift to remote working has made it difficult for women to define boundaries between work, family, children and the extra demands of COVID care. A majority of urban working women are dealing with tremendous stress in their professional and personal lives. As per Deloitte’s ‘Women@Work’ report, 42% of women feel the pandemic has impacted their mental and physical health
  • Financial decision-making: With the aim of taking charge of money matters and better financial preparedness, more women are actively participating in financial decision-making. As per a Scripbox survey, the percentage of married women making joint decisions with their spouses has doubled from 33% to 67% over the last year. About 21% of women from the survey have taken complete charge of their finances that lends them the confidence to take more risks.

Related: COVID-19: A helpful coronavirus vaccination guide for young women

  • Investments: Many women have utilised their time during the lockdown to upgrade their investment skills and take a serious look at wealth-generating options such as stocks and mutual funds. Most broking houses say their female clientele has grown by 50%–75% in 2020 alone. A vast number of these women are married and from Tier II and III cities. The opportunity to explore alternative sources of income, attractive stock valuations, declining interest rates, and the availability of user-friendly investment platforms have all played the role of a catalyst.
  • Insurance: 2020 has been a strong reminder of how an unexpected medical emergency can throw the family’s finances in disarray. However, a report by IRDAI suggests that women’s share of new life insurance policies actually declined from 36% in FY 2018-19 to 32% in FY 2019-20. Even on the renewal front, there have been a lot of defaults, especially from the middle- and lower-income groups. The uncertainty around finances has forced many people to take a myopic view and save for necessities rather than securing the family’s future.
  • Financial independence: Women have always been prudent with money and this pandemic has further reinforced the need to save for the long-term. As per Scripbox’s survey, almost 60% of the respondents are saving over 20% of their income, prioritising their retirement, children’s education, an emergency fund, and money for a home. However, 50% of the women, especially from non-metro locations, are not confident about their financial knowledge.

Related: How women entrepreneurs can look at COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity

  • Vaccination: Women are lagging behind on inoculation numbers. Almost 12% fewer women have received some form of vaccination as compared to men. The primary caregivers of the family tend to defer their needs. In other traditional setups, their need for healthcare and access to various services is not given due consideration.

Last words

The pandemic has further widened the already large gender gap in India across all parameters. It is important for all regulatory agencies to take remedial action and for us to make a proactive shift in our social consciousness to foster a financially encouraging future for women across all walks of life. Look at these 5 Ways in which you can take charge of your finances post COVID-19.