In a worrying trend, a gender skew in India’s Covid vaccination is showing up with only 854 women receiving their jabs for every 1,000 men. In fact, barring Chhattisgarh and Kerala where more women are getting vaccinated — both states have more women than men in their adult population — most states have women vaccination rates worse than their sex ratios.
For example, in UP though the adult sex ratio is 936, among the vaccinated it is just 746. In Bihar with a sex ratio of 923, only 810 women per 1,000 men have been vaccinated. The data clearly indicates women’s lack of agency in the country coupled with hurdles to independent mobility and access to registration for vaccination.
In fact, women’s healthcare continues to receive less priority due to patriarchal mores. This is also borne out by the fact that states with higher overall vaccination rates like Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have less of a gender skew in vaccination. In other words, where there is a shortage of vaccines, women are not being prioritised for jabs. The cruel irony is that women are at the forefront of fighting Covid as nurses, doctors and ASHA workers. But patriarchy ensures they continue to receive the short end of the stick.
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Covid has devasted our society in multiple ways, and given patriarchal structures women are being burdened twice over. In fact, the pandemic is erasing decades of progress made in women’s empowerment. This must be stemmed immediately for the sake of the future of our society. State governments must intervene to mitigate any unfair gender skews in the Covid vaccination drive.
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