The pandemic has presented a variety of challenges for everyone. However, this global issue has sparked innovation and action from women who have stepped up to provide support and solutions over the past year. Taking the lead in unprecedented times can be challenging for anyone with responsibilities to the wider community. However, there is a selection of individuals who took on this complicated issue and developed decisive and powerful strategies to curb the spread of the disease. In turn, these steps provide inspiration and strength to global leaders and the public.
Take a look at some of the women at the forefront of the pandemic and how they handled this unique situation:
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not only made waves during her first term as president in 2020. But she also won a landslide victory for re-election largely due to her response to the COVID crisis. Ardern has been praised by many for her handling of the pandemic. Her decisive and empathic approach inspired many others across the world. The prime minister’s quick actions are said to be one of the significant factors in how the country successfully curbed the spread of COVID-19.
Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan
It’s no wonder Tsai Ing-wen was placed in Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in 2020. At the start of the pandemic, Tsai Ing-wen took immediate action to investigate and contain the virus before it spread to the mass community. Tsai worked alongside public health professionals on the guidance of the severity of the issue and pushed the message that this was a humanitarian disaster that all countries should address together. At the start of the pandemic, Tsai Ing-wen undertook intensive investigations on travel and tracking all patients’ contact history. The government also monitored commodities spikes to prevent panic buying. The shortages of PPE across the globe also made headlines. Still, the president devised a system for distributing rationed masks for both the health system and the public. As Taiwan’s first female president, she has undoubtedly made an impact in the role.
Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech
You may have already heard of Özlem Türeci, and the reason – she’s the co- founder of BioNTech, the company that created the first-approved COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer. The company and founders made history with the fastest development of a vaccine, and Türeci was responsible for the clinical trials. Before COVID, Türeci worked alongside her husband to research cancer treatments and the innovative RNA technology, which later became the first of its kind vaccine in the fight against the virus.
You might mistake 17-year-old Krystyna Paszko as just another fresh-faced teenager. But this Polish high school student created a lifeline for domestic abuse victims during the pandemic, which also saw her recognised for her efforts with the EUs Civil Solidarity Prize. Krystyna started a fake online shop so sufferers of domestic abuse could seek help under the premise of online shopping. The team behind the shop included a psychologist, and if individuals left an address, this would indicate a code asking for authorities to check-in. After seeing reports of domestic abuse on the rise in Poland and hearing of people feeling trapped in their homes, Paszko developed this idea to support women during the pandemic. Since winning the award, Krystyna is happy there is a spotlight on the problems the pandemic is causing and is planning to keep the shop open to help others in need.
These are just a selection of the many women who are supporting the efforts against the pandemic and helping communities rebuild post-COVID. Comment below the women in your life who have inspired you or anyone we have missed!