In trying to map the changes that were brought about by the pandemic in the last two years in the minds and lives of the common people, we have conducted a series of surveys bringing out the difference in terms of perspective and lifestyle. For this research, we have particularly targeted women, studying their journey through the past couple of years to understand how they have absorbed the whole experience and handled the challenges. We spoke to younger married women in the 21-30 years age group and the older ones in the 31-40 years age group, both homemakers and working professionals.
We came across some interesting insights through these surveys. Women – the married ones in this case – show a perceivable change in mindset after having endured the two years of pandemic. They spoke about the challenges they had faced and the constraints they had to overcome in the era of quarantine and isolation. The problem areas that are mostly stressed on are:
- Health-related uncertainty leading to stress and anxiety
- Financial challenges owing to volatile job situation and loss in business
- Restricted mobility during lockdowns and self-imposed isolation for fear of infection
The challenges have been difficult, but in having to deal with them or work around them, women have picked up some important lessons on the way in terms of both life values and practical solutions. While for most women and their families, health concerns before Covid restricted themselves to dealing with the occasional illness, the pandemic restructured the entire approach to healthcare. People started becoming more aware of their health in general, revising their food schedule to include more healthy food and cutting out junk, assigning more value to physical exercise and trying to strike a balance in general between pleasure living and healthy living. Women, who became more than ever the crux of a family unit during the prolonged time of crisis, also began to realize at this juncture the importance of looking after themselves for the sake of self and others.
A very interesting change happened for married women in the financial aspect. While the professionals certainly found it challenging to balance the demands of work at office and increased workload at home, the homemakers started nurturing career aspirations. The fall of the job market translated to uncertainty at the financial front at home, and homemakers wanted to do their share in bearing the financial burden with their husbands to ease out the stress of the sole bread-earner. The last couple of years saw a blooming in the home-based business market from women entrepreneurs. Since offline business was not possible to conduct, women took over the online platform, doing Lives on and creating content for social media. The social media-based business saw a significant boom during the pandemic years, and the trend continues to prosper as Facebook Lives and Instagram pages now have an ever-burgeoning client base.
One of the more testing challenges to deal with was the situation of restricted mobility. Our respondents mentioned how they could not go out to meet their elderly parents for months, sometimes even when they were reportedly ill. Movement was either completely on hold or women had to depend on their husbands to help them travel the distance on their two or four-wheelers. The helplessness was absolutely distressing unless some decided to take it upon themselves to secure the independence of their movement by investing on individual vehicles. Most, however, could not work around this challenge unless normalcy was restored after the lifting of the lockdowns.
Overall, women can be said to have made the most of a difficult situation in the past two years by not letting themselves get stuck in challenges but thinking laterally to make the most of the state of affairs. Notwithstanding the hardships, they have certainly emerged more aware, more resourceful and much smarter through the pandemic.