Research on Understanding the Impact of Covid 19 on Women before and during the Lockdown

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Introduction

Since March 2020 my life has changed completely. Before the lockdown I was a very energetic and positive person. I was just completing my degree in Criminology, having time to see friends and family. However, during the lockdown and its restriction my life has changed dramatically. I had to finish all my assignments at home, while home-schooling three children and looking after the house. My husband is a critical key work and was away from home six days a week. This meant that in order to be able to complete everything, I had to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to finish my work and then be able to do other tasks. My mental health has been drastically affected by this and due to the effects of Corvid 19 I have stated to wonder how other women have been affected.

Aims

The main aim of this research is to find out and gather an understanding of the impact of Corvid 19 on women before and during the lockdown. I am interested in gathering the perceptions of young women that do not have children to those in a later stage of life, working mums and students. Seeing how their life and priorities have changed, also finding out about their mental health. The main theory that my thesis will draw upon is ‘Feminist Theory’, looking at a number of aspects of the complexities of lockdown and its effects, both long and short term.

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However, before I focus on explaining how various parts of feminist theory can support the main aim of my research and connect with the key research questions, those questions have to be identified. The research is focusing on the following principle questions:

  • How were women affected during and after lockdown?
  • How where the roles in households divided?
  • Can Feminist theory explain the division of roles in households?

The idea is to empower women by research method (Mauthner, 2002), by interviewing women and finding out about their lives and views and also to overcome potential abuse of power implicit in traditional male epistemologies. Kelly et al. (1994) suggest that although women taking part in the research can be informative, the researcher potentially can have the most important role, enabling and creating meanings. In mitigating researchers’ power, the importance on democratic statement and contributor empowerment is frequently overlooked or downplayed. The basic idea of participation and empowerment can confuse other parts of the research capacity and accountability: as Kelly et al. (1994) suggest, it is in the hands of the person who takes time, resources and skills to conduct methodological labour, and put all the information together and make sense out of the data. Even though the participant takes time to reflect on the subject, the person conducting the research is crucial to the whole process (Mauthner, 2002).

Feminist theory is the expansion of feminism into hypothetical, sometimes more fictional, or philosophical discussion (Kolmar at el., 2005). Although men have also lockdown been affected by Covid 19, in this research I am focusing on women; therefore, feminist theory will strongly support and aid me in the study. Feminist theory aspires to recognise the core issue of gender inequality. It focuses on examining the social role, interests, chores, and feminist politics in a wide range of different fields for men and women. In particular it has relevance to areas such as sociology, media studies, anthropology and philosophy (Donovan, 2012)

The gendered elements of Covid-19 lockdown between March -June 20202 affect home life, as the division of choice and responsibilities has been taking a long time to change. According to the International Labour Organization (2018), women still do more low-paid care work in comparison to men around the world. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic there has been a higher demand for home-based work, not just due to closures of schools and childcare services, but also due to more and more people getting ill and needing that help and care. While society has been relying on women and the work they provide, women’s mental and also physical health are at risk due to that high demand (Cohen & Venter, 2020; Geurts et al., 2005). COVID-19 has shown how big the demand for care is, not only in hospitals where trained healthcare staff are paid for their work, but also at home. However, the domestic care women provide in many cases is frequently unappreciated and unseen (Himmelstein & Venkataramani, 2019; Sayer, 2005).

As Power (2004) stated in Social provisioning as a starting point for feminist economics. Feminist Economics there is an awareness that care work is undervalued, whether paid or unpaid; women have uneven duties in accomplishing this work and this is a problem that has gathered long-lasting interest in the area of feminist economics. It is therefore very important to gather experiences of women to appreciate the impact of COVID-19 and mitigate their suffering, as nations realise the associated economic consequence of lockdown (Bahn et al., 2020).

Feminist study in economics has regularly emphasized the dependence on women for social reproduction in order to work, either if it is paid or unpaid (Laslett & Brenner, 1989; Power, 2004; Vogel, 2013). On a day to day basis in life, social reproduction can be defined in terms of the large propositions taken on by women, such as house work, physical and emotional care and any other jobs that meet basic human demands— essential to preserve current life and to reproduce the next generation (Laslett & Brenner, 1989, p. 383).

If social reproduction stopped, the whole social system would not be able to work and it would fall (Bahn et al., 2020). COVID 19 has highlighted not only the amount of female work but also the value of women’s work – paid or unpaid. With the closure of schools the role of teacher fell disproportionately on women (Women in Sport research, 2020) and community education as a device of sustenance and providing care for families was laid bare, as working women tried to organise child care. Looking across the globe, women, and particularly women of colour, have unequal low wage work, even though the work was often the front line while the COVID 19 virus spread (Bahn et al., 2020). In many cases, even when women are sick or are at high risk of catching the virus, they have no choice and still have to go to work. Many nurses, also the number of women is much higher in this profession than men, had to still go to work. As Tolich and Briar (1999) observe in Just checking it out: Exploring the significance of informal gender divisions amongst American supermarket employees, women that work in food shops, where the task they do often puts them in the direct contact with the customer, are necessary and very important roles, but unfortunately not recognised, until there is a global crisis (Bahn et al., 2020).

According to the Bahn et al. (2020), the group of women that took part in their research demonstrated that women work longer hours than men in total and also do more unpaid work in comparison to men (ILO, 2018; Sayer, 2005). Also as women are faced with responsibility of social reproduction, they could also be in situations where they have to complete unpaid work and face loss of income; for example, to take care of family members instead of taking them to the doctors (ILO, 2018).

Also all around the world, there is more single parents that are women than men; in those households most likely there is one income coming in and the whole family relies on it (Cohen, 2010). Having to support family, work and run a household is very likely to affect women’s mental and physical health (Cohen & Venter, 2020; Geurts et al., 2005).

This is not a new issue of uneven work. This problem goes far back and all around the globe. Cohen and Venter completed a research in 2015 called The integration of occupational- and household-based chronic stress among South African women employed as public hospital nurses, looking particularly at nurses in South Africa as this profession is dominated by women. Nurses are also vital to healthcare profession and in less advantaged communities. Compared to other occupations where roles are dominated by women, nurses get paid well. Though they are on many occasions faced with very difficult challenges- where they are put in difficult, poor areas and must provide help, but also deal with the expectations of families – and provide level of support. Cohen and Venter in their research performed semi-structured interviews with 71 female nurses in Johannesburg. By using social network mapping and grounded theory, they discovered difficult, connected stressors and systems of household dependence. Their results were that all women that took part in the research had been faced with a high amount of stress. They described their day-to-day lives of constant stress, with a big strain on income and time. A lot of this stress and pressure comes from home life- either where a partner is dependent on their income, children and also financial responsibilities.

Dependence is a form of social and cultural standards which appoints women main liability for unpaid work; however, nurses described their attempts as unjustifiable and anxiety-inducing; their wage and paid employment plans made reaching that accountability practically difficult (Cohen & Venter, 2020).

Framework

As staring point of creating my research I will be using Crotty’s (2015) approach and framework. Crotty (2015) supports observation that every researcher throughout the research period must have ability to solve four easy questions, he describes them as the basic elements of any research process:

  1. What methods will need to be applied? What are the procedures or techniques applied to collect and evaluate data?
  2. What methodology makes selection of methods used? The approach, plan of action, development or project layout is behind our choice and use of particular methods
  3. What is theoretical perspective? The philosophical viewpoint advising the methodology and delivering context for the procedure and establishing its logic and principles
  4. What epistemology advises our view? What the hypothesis of knowledge rooted in the hypothetical view and thus in the methodology? (Crotty, 1998 p2)

These four questions provide a complexity and breadth to the related choices that are vital in the layout of research. Crotty (2015) recommends avoiding the compulsion of going straight into methods and as an alternative promotes postponing study initiation, as this provides the researcher with better understanding of the context of the methodology. Focusing on each step of research will give a better understanding of the whole process and avoids getting lost in the process (Crotty, 2015).

By following this suggestion my research question will be placed within epistemology. The research direction will be formed so it can meet the requirement of the study issue. Subsequently, the identification of a theoretical perspective will be followed by choice of methods (Creswell, 2003).

Epistemology

Epistemology is the analysis of the nature of knowledge, it defines what we know and how we know; it also focuses on what the limits of knowledge are. It is a framework for identifying the nature and generation of understanding about the social world; that is, it relates to matters of how to comprehend the nature of realty (Stanley et al., 1993).

Combining epistemology with the main theory in my research- feminist theory-creates the feminist epistemology. Many feminists have claimed that knowledge, rationale, and science have been dominated by the perspectives of men. Feminists have recognised the sciences as equally the foundation and a position of gender differences: the institutions of science have not included women for centuries and feminist critics of science believe that gender-based issues, and issues of female interest (or, more seriously, subjects of apprehension to females and sex/gender sectors) are regularly demoted as topics of scientific examination, or are looked at as reproducing gender-normative labels; and, finishing the loop, scientific specialisms have regularly attempted to justify these types of social characterisations and organisations despite feminists questioning their validity (Figueroa et al., 2003).This belief comes from western societies, where men have been dominating by patriarchy and also men have abused the position of power to define issues, construct language and create theories (Letherby, 2003). Also, men were in place to stimulate their interest, which resulted in the western culture where men are influential in art, media, literature, and other subjects-they all exhibit predominantly male figures and qualities (Letherby, 2003). The tension between official knowledge (academical) and experiential knowledge (general, gathered through experience) is reflected via academic subjects such a sociology and history, to the extent that even the medicalization of giving birth has been male dominant. Historically, women have been over the years side-lined by academic debates and their application (Letherby, 2003).

Therefore one of my main focuses and aims is not to rebuild the rifts, but to investigate and study problems and issues of ‘finding a position’ by noticing distinctions between epistemology and research by concentrating on women’s issues and place in order to outline the methods (Letherby, 2003).

As Harding (1990) and Letherby (2003) indicate, in contrast to the male academy, feminist empiricism does not seem to be as hostile of feminist epistemologies, as they depart from the original (male) philosophical and scientific understanding of the values of acceptable analysis. Feminist epistemology uses the original approaches more appropriately, by challenging the approaches that are being used instead of challenging the task itself, and also its final methodological goal.

However, Harding (1990) states that epistemologies are ‘justificatory strategies’, required to protect the importance of feminist knowledge and to steer theory in the right direction in terms of practice and politics. However, Harding argues that if it were unable to access fundamental generalisations, feminism would find hard to keep its moral and political position in transforming the subjugation of women. Feminists are aware of efforts to impact social transformation by unqualified universal requests to women and women’s activities, thus many feminist epistemologies have progressed beyond and, looking at postmodernist work, eliminated entirely universalizing categories of gender or identity (Butler 1990;1993; Fraser and Nicholson, 1990).

Though there is also another way of looking at ‘Feminine epistemology’ – in the way that women do not necessary realise that they are different from men, but that theoretically the act of knowing is not the same in comparison to men. For example, Giligan (1982) strongly believes that when women are ‘doing’ epistemology they show more empathy, analyse problem to get more of the inside of the issue, which has maybe not necessary been looked at from a traditionally male epistemological perspective. In this sense, Giligan suggest men and women have a ‘different voice’ and view on life. Their self-concept is different. Specifically, their understanding and focus on moral issues differs. Due to that, Giligan (1982) takes issue with Kohlber’s phases of moral development and method to modify them; thus, that they take account of the way in which females assign moral logic. Giligan contends men appear to set a premium on independence, generality, conceptual objectivity. However, women, in comparison to men, find caring very important, together with nurturing, relationships and the creation of social community. Harding (1983) also shares this belief and also contends that rationality is gendered; that is, that it varies according to sex (Crotty, 1998).

Do to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 there has been increased panic, anxiety, and depression level for all the ages and sexes; also the relationship with food and its consumption has changed drastically (Bilal et al., 2020). In the research completed by Bilal et al. entitiled “The Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic Outbreak on the Household Economy” there has been investigation on households’ income and expenses and its effects. In their research Bilal et al. provide an online survey to four hundred and ninety-three participants/families. The aim of this research was to get the household budget issues, including income, overall outgoings, and other expenditures through COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

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Research on Understanding the Impact of Covid 19 on Women before and during the Lockdown. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/research-on-understanding-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-before-and-during-the-lockdown/
“Research on Understanding the Impact of Covid 19 on Women before and during the Lockdown.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/research-on-understanding-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-before-and-during-the-lockdown/
Research on Understanding the Impact of Covid 19 on Women before and during the Lockdown. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/research-on-understanding-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-before-and-during-the-lockdown/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Research on Understanding the Impact of Covid 19 on Women before and during the Lockdown [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/research-on-understanding-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-before-and-during-the-lockdown/
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