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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

The gendered impacts of COVID-19 amidst agrarian distress: Opportunities for comprehensive policy response in agrarian South Asia

Nichols, Carly E; Jalali, Falak; Ali, Syed Shoaib; Gupta, Divya; Shrestha, Suchita; Fischer, Harry


COVID-19 and its associated disease control measures have greatly altered everyday life. The burden of these challenges has fallen disproportionately on women. Drawing on qualitative inquiry in agrarian north India and Nepal, this research note analyzes how South Asian COVID-19 lockdowns have affected women's labor responsibilities in sometimes surprising ways. We find increased responsibilities for caregiving within the household, substantial stress in responding to food insecurity, and growing expectations to fulfill public roles in disease response measures. However, we also find that the return of male migrants and youth has, in some cases, reduced women's farming responsibilities and created opportunities for household togetherness at a time of great uncertainty. We conclude that more research is needed to examine the nuanced aspects of COVID-19's gendered labor impacts to create comprehensive policy responses to address the multiple and sometimes conflicting effects the lockdown has had on agrarian women's informal labor and well-being.


Care labor; policy; subsistence agriculture; India; Nepal; intra-household bargaining

Published in

Politics and Gender
2020, Volume: 16, number: 4, article number: PII S1743923X20000483

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG5 Gender equality
    SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Gender Studies
    Public Administration Studies
    Human Geography

    Publication identifier


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