• Geena Hill

Lessons to Learn From Women Throughout a Pandemic


© Women's Day 2021 Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri


A highlight of the lessons we can learn, from the role that women have played, throughout the pandemic.


Whilst everyday I am reminded of the effervescent beauty withheld in their nature, today is the day where we universally celebrate our beloved women. The United Nations announced the theme for today’s International Women’s Day as being ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world' with the International Women’s Day Website choosing this years campaign theme as being #ChoosetoChallenge. A challenge of which encourages us to call out gender bias and inequality. After what can be considered as one of the strangest years on record, and one that we could not have calculated for, it is here we can begin to ask what lessons we can learn from the role women have played throughout the pandemic?


Leadership


As we mindlessly scroll amongst our plethora of news sources, we can easily get swamped in the stories of male headed countries and their tireless critiques. Over the past annum, political leaders have had their power put into question based upon their responses towards the growing presence of COVID-19. And, whilst our media outlets remain saturated by the consequences of political failures, it is women of whom we can begin to learn lessons of successful leadership from.


Within Bloomberg's COVID Resilience Ranking, we see four female headed countries taking up spots in the top five ranks based upon case rate, fatality rate, and positive test rate. Here, we are able to see the triumphs of Jacinda Arden, prime minister of New Zealand, Halima Yacob, President of Singapore, Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland, and Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, as they stepped up to their call of being. It is nothing short of shocking to see, whilst being situated in a country of whom’s careless leadership has accounted for a heartbreaking toll of fatalities, that other nations have been able to tackle the virus in such a way that has protected their citizens to the largest extent. Even Singapore, who’s population density per square mile is nearly thirty times that of the UK, has amassed only 29 deaths in stark comparison to the UK’s grave 124,000 and counting.


Whilst political bias usually sways in the favour of male cohorts, of whom hold the majority within head of state positions, women have challenged this bias proving that they too are capable of leading a country to higher success. The tactile and compassionate actions of women leaders have championed throughout the pandemic, of which many notes can be taken.


Care


The caring nature of women is one that has been proven countlessly throughout the previous year, one that has comforted us in our darkest times whilst remaining an omnipresent beam of hope to see us through. Throughout the pandemic, many women have inhabited roles of which required them to encompass a tremendous amount of strength and care. Within the UK, nine out of ten nurses are female, and whilst the work of doctors is one that should indeed be celebrated, the role that nurses play is one that commonly gets unrecognised.


Over the course of the past twelve months, nurses have been the ones to provide daily care to patients within hospitals. The ones of whom have comforted the patients admitted into intensive care units, engaging in vibrant conversations ensuring that they remain positive and hopeful. These nurses have been the ones to console families, continually providing updates, recognising the importance of their role as if the family were their own. Ultimately, the nurses have been the ones to organise the heartbreaking FaceTime calls, ensuring that families are able to see their loved ones before their time of passing, making sure that their emotions are concealed until they are behind closed doors.


Throughout the pandemic, women have also made up the majority of those partaking in the giving of paid and unpaid care. Remaining selfless and strong in order to ensure the wellbeing of others is maintained. This caring and considerate nature is an attribute of which we can all take with us to incorporate in our lives.


Love


Acts of nurturing and nourishing have been the driving factor of keeping up morale within these turbulent times. Within the UK, women made up 75.8% of teachers during 2020. By adapting to a variety of new teaching styles, ensuring that learning is made enjoyable, women were constantly putting the education of the next generation at the forefront of their minds. Not only did women take a stand in ensuring the education of children was able to continue, but they also worked around the clock to allow a safe space for children to seek refuge.


By opening their classrooms, even when their calls for safety were ignored by the government, teachers ensured that not only were they distributing lessons of Maths and English, but further lessons of love and responsibility.


Throughout history, women have tirelessly acted to challenge bias and inequality within our society. And, whilst there have been major advancements over the previous decades and centuries, there is still a long way to go until women are consensually able to stand on an equal pedestal to men. However, the values that women incorporate throughout their daily actions are ones that have been proven time, and time, again as lessons we can all learn from. Here, I want to express my gratitude to all women, everywhere, for the sacrifices that you make everyday of which you don’t even recognise as sacrifices, for the love that you teach us, the care that you give us, and the acts of leadership that continue to see us through each day.