(By Lucy Wanjiku Njenga)
They say you never know your strength until being strong is the only option you have!!!In these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, this phrase holds so true and more so for girls and women. 2020 started as a great year, with all of us psyched at the possibilities that laid ahead along with the joy of welcoming a new decade. All of this has been put on hold. We are blaming COVID19, but I think this is just a reminder of all the gaps we have in the systems.
I think of women who are the breadwinners in their households and how they must continue to work to put food on the table. I think of women with abusive partners, and how the cases of violence against women and girls has and will continue to escalate as lockdowns and self-isolation continues. What is sad is that everyone is too caught up to notice. I think of the girls who found school to be their haven, but with the economic collapse at hand, they may be forced into worse circumstances and injustices, like early marriages.
Also, I wonder how new mothers are supposed to socially distance themselves from their newborns? How practical is it for them to follow the health recommendations being provided?
I worry about our health system and the health care workers globally who are already overwhelmed. When I heard our nurses were on a go-slow because of the fear of exposure in our public health facilities, my heart went out to them.
Imagine how it must feel for those mothers who can’t even begin to think of what online studying or working from home looks like. Neither do they know the luxury of having an emergency fund kit to stock up on necessities. For these mothers, meals from school feeding programs are the healthiest options their children have. If this pandemic is not the wake up call for the world, I do not know what else will be. COVID19 is not just about health It is about health and wellbeing, adopting holistic solutions, and doing better for women and girls everywhere. As we think of delivering on the SDGs during the Decade of Action, we cannot afford to continue to continue business as usual!!
I have deep worries about my family. As a young woman and mother to a little girl who recently went back to school, I am working on getting my career positioned towards a positive trajectory. Similarly, I have bills that will probably not get paid as my household income gets affected by the pandemic. I cringe at the thought of all the young women I work with who have it worse than me. At this point, getting an alert that I just received some money is heavenly.
The one thing that shall keep us going and see us through victory against the pandemic is the fact that We Are Powerful as women and girls!! Now more than ever, we need to amplify our voices and remind the world that We are Equal, and We Matter. We need to hold each other’s hands and spread our sisterly magic as we have always done and stand ‘socially distant’ alongside each other in these uncertain times because We Are Powerful, We Are Equal.
Re-posting from ATHENA’s WhatWomenWant Blog Series.