As India works to recover from the pandemic, women should be at the heart of its strategy to ensure actions improve Indian women's lives and foster widespread societal benefits.

Public health considerations have placed countries worldwide in the difficult position of making a trade-off between saving lives and saving livelihoods. In India, the world's second-most populous country, a national lockdown was imposed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and phased re-openings began in July 2020.

The country's gross domestic product contracted by 23.9% year on year in the first quarter of 2020-21, with manufacturing, construction and services such as trade, hotels, and transportation contracting in the range of 40%-50%. Despite being a universal crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, emerging evidence indicates. Globally, women's employment is 19% more at risk than men, and the gender poverty gap is expected to worsen well into 2030.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.