Not every woman has the ability/opportunity to work from home or has maintained her job during this pandemic. Many women and their partners/spouses have lost either/both their jobs, or their incomes are in jeopardy. Women who are financially dependent on their partners are left even more vulnerable as their agency is further diminished, and they easily become victims of domestic violence including sexual abuse.
Many women are the main income earners in single income households as solo individuals or single parents, and the pressure of losing their income presents a yawning free fall with no safety nets in a world that both scorns and punishes ‘too strong’, single women and single mothers. Additionally, for many single mothers, the fear of falling victim to COVID-19 is also a grim reminder of the fragility of their parenting situation when no-one else is there to step in for their child(ren) if they themselves fall sick, or die from the disease.
With all this in mind, combined with the reality of the synchronized double burden, and other pre-existing non-COVID related complexities, its a miracle that women are able to still function. It’s consequently not unexpected that our minds and bodies are overwhelmed by these anxieties. Often times, all we want to do is sink into paralyzed fixation on the seemingly inevitable wave of sickness and despair that seems to be rolling closer as the COVID numbers and deaths increase. It does feel incredulous to still have to pick yourself up and work (or care for anyone else for that matter).
At the same time, those still working and getting compensated are very aware of the fortuitousness of having a job that pays right now, as well as the precariousness of said jobs. For many, never before has work presented itself in this magnitude of both burden and luxury at the same time. Many have to suppress their paralysis in the face of panic, whilst galvanizing themselves into action at home and work in order to guarantee day to day sustenance. Honestly, this is not a new reality for a lot of people, but the Corona virus has brought this to the fore for more people than before.
Anxiety is not new to African women but it typically goes undiagnosed as women are too often expected to suppress their needs and carry everyone else’s. Without the tools and resources to deal with this unacknowledged burden, women are left defenseless and crushed under invisible emotional weights. In these days of social distancing, it’s easy to lose touch with the networks we typically relied on to center ourselves in the face of such storms. However whilst staying safe, it’s important we keep connected at least virtually. Online therapy is also at our fingertips through mediums such as Talkspace and Betterhelp. Don’t do it alone. Reach out. Talk. Get help.
Want to share your COVID-19 reality? Please send to us here and indicate if you want to be anonymous, or share on instagram with #OtherCovidRealities and tag Nwaami.