Who is Carrying the Burden?

This reflection is based on the Men Engage article (13 April 2020): “Let us not be blind to the gendered impact of COVID-19, written by Mpiwa Mangwiro.

Maria Holtsberg, humanitarian and disaster risk advisor at UN Women Asia and Pacific has been quoted as saying: “Crisis always exacerbates gender inequality. ” During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are observing this very thing. As more countries go into lockdown women take on more of the responsibility to care in a disproportionate way. Physical distancing with its #stayhome includes the banning of social gatherings in order to reduce infections and flatten the curve.

As such, schools, colleges and universities are closed. Who cares for these children? More often than not, the burden falls on women to attend to their personal hygiene, homework, cleaning, meals, washing and ironing as well as ensuring that precautionary measures are adhered to in order to reduce the spread of the virus. In poor communities where there is no running water, it is often the women who fetch and carry water. Added to this is the responsibility of caring for someone in the family that may fall sick which more often than not becomes the sole duty of women. During this period of lockdown think about and discuss gender equality within your own families, work and communities. Below are some questions to consider:

  • Are expected gender roles still workable and applicable today?
  • Compare your grandparents’ society with society today. What has changed?
  • What could be the consequences of spreading the burden of care at home?
  • Is there a disconnect between what we say we believe in and what how we actually live our lives?
  • How could women’s perspective bring positive change in the workplace? What can we learn from the Scriptures?

Read, pray, meditate and discuss. Then go do. Philippians 2:4 Everyone should look out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of others. Galatians 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.

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