Feminist Storybook on COVID-19

The pandemic has unmasked and worsened the existing interconnected crises brought by the neoliberal and patriarchal system. In the past months, while the countries were in lockdown, the intersectional impacts of coronavirus to the lives of women have been glaring and unthinkable.

Women in informal sectors are among the 460 million[1] people in India who walked back to their villages, as they weren’t be able to afford the two-square meals and home rents in big cities anymore.[2] During the mass exodus, the police brutally beat and violently dispersed the migrants who had no choice left but to walk hundreds of kilometres back home. In Hong Kong, domestic workers, who are mostly women from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other neighbouring countries, were not allowed to take their rest days off and enjoy their own time.[3]

Even before the pandemic, the value of unpaid care and domestic work—which is relegated to women— had been invisible due to the gender norms around economic and care work. In the event of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns, the pandemic highlighted just how essential care work is to our economy, health and survival.[4] Also, domestic violence has increased while women, men and children stay at home. In the study of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), at least 4,249 women and 456 children were subjected to domestic violence in 27 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh in the month of April.[5]

While people in Asia and the Pacific and across the globe await the coming of “new normal”, feminists, activists, and movements reshape and transform the old ways as they resist, promote and forward women’s human rights and build solidarity. In the progressive efforts of women and the people from the villages, cities, and borders, the “new normal” becomes an anticipation of a future breaking free with the past.

COVID-19 Storybook

In light of the interconnected crises brought and exacerbated by COVID-19, APWLD sees the necessity to produce a publication that shares the stories of community women in Asia and the Pacific, which are creative, easy to digest and accessible. The storybook will:

  1. document and amplify the stories of women and their communities and impact of COVID-19 including the acts of resistance, solidarity actions, and policy recommendations
  2. effectively capture the attention and response of various audience coming from different backgrounds
  3. showcase these stories of struggles, resistance, and feminist solidarity as illustrations in a storybook

The stories illustrated as part of this storybook have been collected from APWLD members and partners across Asia and the Pacific and will be published on a rolling basis. For any further information on the Feminist Storybook, please contact Kristine Valerio, Research and Publication Associate at kristine@apwld.org.

[1] Roy A., 2020. The Pandemic is a Portal. Retrieved at https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

[2] D’Souza N., 2020. A Billion In Lockdown: What COVID-19 Means For India’s Women Informal Workers. Retrieved at https://intpolicydigest.org/2020/04/15/a-billion-in-lockdown-what-covid-19-means-for-india-s-women-informal-workers/

[3] The Pulse, 2020. Migrant Workers Combatting Coronavirus. RTHK Podcast

[4] Butt A, Parkes A., Stefov D., 2020. Coronavirus and the case for care: Envisioning a just, feminist future. Retrieved at https://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/coronavirus-and-the-case-for-care-envisioning-a-just-feminist-future/?fbclid=IwAR2nkvHnYu7R-4TQWUiAO1ZdPAtzWEXjEJXzFJW9bpOlejk_NY4mjpslFyE

[5] Islam A., 2020. COVID-19 lockdown increases domestic violence in Bangladesh. Retrieved at https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-lockdown-increases-domestic-violence-in-bangladesh/a-53411507