This article explores the gendered impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Bangladesh by analysing everyday practices within the household. Conceptually, we have followed R.W. Connell’s model of the structures of gender and Naila Kabeer’s perspective on women’s power to examine how a normative gender order involving heterosexual marital partners tends to be sustained during ‘normal’ times but can often be destabilised in the context of an unprecedented crisis. Based on an analysis of data collected through an online survey and in-depth interviews, our findings show that the COVID-19 crisis has generated an opportunity for challenging gender inequalities by diminishing the public-private divide and expanding the horizon of responsibility sharing between women and men. Facing this ‘new normal’ reality, some women have been able to consider life choices and revise unequal relationships with spouses. In contrast, others have reproduced pre-existing inequalities and continued life ‘as usual’ under the regime of men.

Author Biography

Soma Dey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She obtained a Ph.D. in Gender & Development Studies (GDS) from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. Her areas of research interest include gender, environment, and natural resource management; gender, poverty, and livelihoods; globalization; and indigenous society. *Corresponding author. Email: Soma.Dey@du.ac.bd.

Sanzida Akhter is currently working as an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Dhaka. She obtained her PhD from Flinders University, Australia. Sanzida’s areas of work include reproductive health, gender-based violence, migration and Gender, gender socialization, and gender and development goals.

Tasnim Nowshin Fariha is a BSS (Bachelor of Social Sciences) student at the Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her areas of research interest encompass feminism and transnational labour migration, globalization, sexuality and gender, intersectionality and development, and gender and disaster.