The women heroes of this pandemic
Rehmah Kasule (Uganda, United States) is a serial entrepreneur and social innovator with a focus on gender mainstreaming and youth development. She is Lead Social Venture Innovator at the Plus Africa LINKUBATOR which she co-founded.
History is influenced by those that write it, and too often, it’s written by white men who don’t recognize women as leaders, change agents, and as catalysts for development. A famous quote from bell hooks goes, “sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power - not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.” That’s precisely why women’s efforts are underplayed across the world. COVID-19 has tested global systems, leadership, and exacerbated gender inequality. This moment will show us how well we adapt and learn from the pandemic. Will we continue to let gender inequalities persist or will we use it to amplify efforts and use the opportunities it creates? Unfortunately, early reports suggest the former. Although women are having a profound impact in the world’s response to this crisis, with 75% of frontline health workers being women, they have received little recognition. And the stories of their contribution seem soon to be forgotten. We must document stories of women that have created positive impact, and use their voices and narratives to inspire, educate, and empower others, especially children. Such stories will teach practical skills about service, courage, compassion, efficacy, active citizenship, and provide authentic role models they can relate to in their communities. My children’s storybook published this year, ‘Sheroes of COVID-19’ (Kasule, R. & Shah, P., Pangea Publishing) documents the extraordinary work, leadership and achievements of 23 women around the world during the crisis. These women have risen at the community level, in media, peace-keeping, running businesses, caring for the elderly, protecting other women from domestic violence, and keeping children learning. Every day, we are reminded of how women are agents of change. And working together, they are a force of nature who’s power must be lifted up.