Audio Feature

The Cue:

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused thousands of deaths, major lock downs across the globe as well as panic.

But the deadly virus can also prove to have some positive side effects

Our journalist, Uzma Khan, explores how the pandemic is challenging the gender roles in the Pakistani culture and how the roles have been reversed.

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Script:

Pakistani culture is traditional like any other South Asian culture. Theres a strong importance still held on family, honour, religion, and the roles of men and women are still very much old-fashioned. Men are expected to become the breadwinners and provide for the family yet the women are deemed the family makers who despite working too, are expected to also take care of the domestic affairs. Of course, this is primarily down to the gender pay gap but in Pakistani culture, the notion of men acting as the providers is what defines their masculinity. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these Pakistani men are unable to earn enough to support their family and the women have now stepped up to fill that void.

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Despite all this, studies have shown that Pakistani/Bangladeshi women are situated in the lower paying, lower status jobs such as cleaners, supermarket staff and so on and so forth, thus implying that women are forced to work longer hours to earn as much as their partners would do. Consequently, more time will be spent working than performing domestic work at home- something left for the men to pick up.

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To conclude, it appears the notion of masculinity differs for everyone, some may feel emasculated but others are supportive especially in an era where feminism plays a key part in our society. Yet some women feel that although they have taken the breadwinner role, our culture will not change and that once the pandemic is over, the roles will go back to how they were- similar to World War 2.

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