Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disadvantaged rural women in Bangladesh

The gender dimension of disaster vulnerability and impact is widely recognised in disaster social science. Disasters affect men and women differently. The Covid-19, as a disaster, has caused a huge impact on lives and livelihoods of people across the world. This is also true in case of  Bangladesh. It is argued by gender experts that the Covid-19 impact on women, in Bangladesh or elsewhere in the world, is severe. In this context, this study attempts to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on disadvantaged rural women in Bangladesh. Shibaloy, Horirampur and Singair Upazilas of Manikganj District have been selected as the study area. A total of 1125 women have been surveyed through a structured questionnaire. Thirty women were interviewed in-depth, and a few Government officials and local public leaders were interviewed as key informants. The study finds that women are severely affected economically because of loss of livelihoods. Also, it finds that most women have been subjected to violence, both at home and outside home. Although there are some assistance programmes to overcome economic hardship, there is no escape from violence. Women have to bear with the twin burden of economic hardship and violence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings of the study call for women focused economic assistance programme as well as social assistance programme to protect women from violence. The findings have implications for both practice and future research.