Women Leading During COVID
Published on 17.12.2020 | By Victoria Lai, Rebecca Chong and Meera Sivasubramaniam
There has been a considerable debate concerning whether or not a woman's leadership has a considerable effect on how a country responds to this pandemic. Studies have shown that women leaders are generally more risk averse than male leaders, with women-led countries like Germany and New Zealand going considerably faster into lockdown. Angela Merkel is coyly nicknamed the "mutti” or mummy of Germany by netzines. But is it possible that her so- called ‘motherly instincts’ were what enabled the country to cope with this pandemic? Or is it the fact that she is a highly intelligent, well educated woman who is humble and puts a strong emphasis on transparency and democracy?
As of August 31, Germany had more recovered cases than active ones. Boasting a 96% recovery rate, Germany managed to flatten the curve considerably, despite the risk of a second wave. This success can be credited to Angela Merkel, Germany’s first female Chancellor. Early on in 2020, she was tasked with handling an epidemic that was spreading around her country- a monstrous task for any national leader. However, adding on to her 30 years of political experience, she also holds a PhD in quantum chemistry. Throughout her policy making process, she relied heavily on scientific-research organisations, even allocating 150 million Euros (240 million AUD) to coronavirus research programs. During her interview with the Guardian, she explained the severity of the virus and how the continuous spread could lead to the healthcare system rapidly reaching maximum capacity. She does this through specific scientific analysis based on credible sources, unlike many other world leaders who delayed lockdowns and made light of the virus (i.e. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro who stated that COVID-19 was a “little flu or a bit of a cold”). She is unafraid to voice her uncertainty and doubts for this crisis, which describes her transparency on the situation.
She has stood strong in her decisions to extend the lockdown that began in early November if the new cases did not meet the forecasted figures, thus extending the lockdown from December to January. Having favoured stricter lockdowns, Merkel has proved to have her country’s people as her top priority when it comes to making decisions. Under her leadership, she has greatly tamed the virus from spreading, although cases spiked once again after the restrictions were relaxed. However, Germany is now due to receive 70 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, aiming to deliver 70 million vaccines in total from both Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer in the first quarter of 2021 if given authorisation.
She has strongly coupled her scientific knowledge with political experience to handle this pandemic, proving that she is indeed a capable leader and a strong ‘mutti’.
By Victoria Lai
Typically known as a month of celebrating females in America, this year’s March looked very different as the global pandemic hit hard early this year. With thousands of businesses having to downsize or shut down, millions losing their jobs, and everyone being encouraged to stay at home, the threat of COVID-19 goes beyond health care. Yet as expected, reports show that women face tougher adversities due to the virus as compared to men. This is largely due to the fact that females dominate the industries that are most affected by the pandemic, such as education, health care and travel. Furthermore school closures and employment loss, means added pressure for women due to their responsibilities for unpaid care.
However, founder of Creative Business School, Alex Wolf aims to challenge the status quo, support female entrepreneurs and inspire more women to create their own brand.
On top of a lack of funding, female entrepreneurs may face other difficulties such as family responsibilities, limited knowledge and many more. Hence the Creative Business School was introduced as an online program that connects new and existing female entrepreneurs with experts who equip them with valuable knowledge and creative skills to adapt to these uncertain times and run a successful business. The program explores topics such as audience building, brand creation, creative marketing and customer retention, and Alex describes it as a guide to navigating the challenges that comes with building a business. Alex’s program not only offers flexibility for mothers, but also allows attendees to interact with other like-minded business owners who share the same struggles. In a time like this where many would feel isolated and distant from others, the Creative Business School breaks down that physical barrier and is a safe and inspiring space for all female entrepreneurs to thrive.
Alex’s program proactively tackles all the daily struggles female entrepreneurs face as well as the ever-changing limitations and difficulties that come with COVID-19, which is why I believe her work is important at a time like this. She has courageously managed to turn this tough time into an opportunity to change the way women work and empower business owners to connect with their customers online, as she firmly believes that “If customers can trust you now, they’ll trust you forever”.
By Rebecca Chong
“This [public housing lockdown] is not going to be a pleasant experience...this is not about punishment but protection,” Victorian Premier Daniel “Dan” Andrews said in his measured tone, at his Coronavirus press conference. On July 5th 2020, the Premier announced a hard lockdown on nine Melbourne public housing buildings. Residents shared their stories on social media. Using the hashtag #publichousinglockdown, users documented videos of Black public housing residents pushed to the ground by the police and verbal escalations between Victorian police and public housing. A jarring viral video of a public housing volunteer and a police officer also gained public discourse surrounding the lockdown. Did the public authorities protect these residents? Or is that just a convenient narrative employed by these institutions to justify violence.
After a typical Instagram scroll, I came across Tigist Kebede’s Instagram Page. A Naarm based therapist, her post condemning the Victorian police’s approach caught my eye. She also identifies as an intersectional feminist. For those who are not familiar with the term, “intersectionality” refers to a type of feminism which is inclusive of class, disability and economic status. Tigist’s work demonstrates her commitment to intersectionality, as she advocates for domestic violence survivors and writes pieces on gender-based violence. She also makes hilarious videos which break down complex themes like therapeutic stress and white privilege. To further emphasise her brilliance, Tigist wrote a Huffington Post opinion piece on the public housing lockdown. Tigist volunteered as a mental health support worker and coordinated food donations to residents unable to leave their homes. She juxtaposes the Victorian Police’s positive treatment of her against another volunteer who suffered police brutality. Tigist attributes the positive treatment to the police officer’s awareness of her profession, her piece also outlines the institutional abuse Black and Brown people face. Tigist ends her piece by asking the reader to process the image of institutional abuse against Black and Brown bodies. Reading Tigist’s piece left me empowered. I needed to sit down and consider my educational and economic privilege and use this privilege to educate myself on police brutality. Tigist used her privilege of being an educated Women of Colour (WoC) to provide mental health support to vulnerable public housing residents. She volunteered in an unstable environment and used her voice to speak against police brutality.
Music entertainer and “hot girl summer” philosopher Megan Thee Stallion penned an opinion piece for the New York Times in which she writes about the struggles Black women face, “There’s not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman”. She argues that Black women who rebel against the stereotype of being “angry” and “unruly”; this relates to the protests against the public housing lockdown and the people who fight for their voices to be heard. They faced police scrutiny and violence. Tigist Kebede worked to amplify their voices and used her resources to provide these marginalised families support. She understood the stereotypes and abuse that these marginalised communities were subjected to by the media. In a time where racial inequalities and violence is being documented on social media, as people of privilege we need to understand and listen to the struggles of these communities.
By Meera Sivasubramaniam
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