Covid-19 doubles troubles for Himachal’s single women

Covid-19 doubles troubles for Himachal’s single women

NGO urges CM to reduce bus fare, waive electricity dues for women struggling to make ends meet during pandemic.
Raj Kumari, 36, had a broken marriage and worked at a beauty parlour in Shimla till the Covid-19 lockdown claimed her job. In six months, she says she has spent her savings and is struggling to survive.

The past few months have been tough for 50-year-old widow Veena Kumari from Kakrighat in Chamba, too. “With no work under MGNREGA for four months, ration supplies have dried up till villagers came to the rescue,” says Veena, who lost her husband to diabetes-induced health complications 15 years ago. “I raised a loan of Rs 40,000 to build a house but now it’s difficult to repay the instalments,” she says.

Raj Kumari and Veena Kumari are among the over 3 lakh single women of Himachal Pradesh grappling financial constraints as the slowdown has snatched their livelihoods.

The Ekal Mahila Vikas and Kisan Kalyan Samiti, a branch of Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan that was set up for empowering single women, has urged chief minister Jai Ram Thakur to reduce bus fares and waive electricity dues for such women.

“Covid-19 has slowed down the world economy and the common man is the worst hit. Industries have closed down, unemployment has gone up, small and medium businesses have been ruined,” says Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan head Nirmal Chandel. “Instead of offering financial relief to people during this health crisis, the state government has increased their burden by hiking bus fares and electricity charges,” she says.


Single women of the state also want autonomous nyaya panchayats to be set up so that their cases can be taken up on priority and they get speedy justice. They argue that even though the law provides them maintenance and inheritance rights, the court cases drag for years and by the time the verdict is pronounced, their children’s future is already compromised with.

During the lockdown, many divorcees are facing difficulty in getting monthly maintenance fixed by the court. “With no work and many of us not getting the maintenance during the lockdown, our woes have doubled,” says Brij Bala, who was abandoned by her husband.

Though she completed post-graduation in political science after her marriage broke down, she is yet to get a job to secure the future of her children.

The 2011 Census shows the state has 3.04 lakh single women, including widows, divorcees and those abandoned by their husbands. There are 2.94 lakh widows, while 6,956 women have been deserted by husbands and 4,549 are divorcees.