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Womxn’s Contributions in the COVID Pandemic Should Not Be Overlooked

During the COVID pandemic, womxn made up the majority of the frontline workers in China, according to the official news media. None of this however, can be reflected in the new Chinese-government sponsored television drama, “Hero in Harm's way”.


In “Hero in Harm's way”, numerous scenes show male doctors, drivers, and volunteers all eagerly participating in the frontlines of the COVID pandemic. No female figures can be seen. In one scene, it even shows an official saying, “Will a female comrade step up too?” The camera then shows the female workers saying, “Oh no, not me. I have a family to take care of.” Womxn were portrayed as unhelpful, unwilling, and irresponsible.


But is this TV drama reflecting the truth?


Absolutely not. In fact, womxn make up two-thirds of the more than 40,000 medical workers who traveled to Wuhan and its surrounding province, Hubei, to fight the outbreak, said People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. Xinhua, the official state news agency, said that more than half of the doctors deployed to Wuhan from Shanghai were womxn, as well as more than 90 percent of the nurses. An interview in February showed the difficult situations that female workers had encountered as they courageously fought in the frontlines of the pandemic. According to several nurses in Wuhan at the time, they had to shave their hair in order to remain uninfected, and because only supplies cleared by the authorities could make it into the city, many female workers did not have access to any feminine hygiene products, such as pads or tampons.


All over the world, womxn have been at the core of the fight against the COVID epidemic. According to Dr. Thoraya Obaid, chair of Women 20, an official G20 engagement group, “Womxn are a vital part of the health care infrastructure battling the COVID-19 pandemic head-on. Womxn comprise almost 7 out of 10 health and social care workers.” Womxn also face high risks of job and income loss, as well as increased risks of violence, exploitation, abuse, or harassment during times of crisis and quarantine. 527 million womxn work in the five hardest-hit sectors: food services, real estate, business, manufacturing, and wholesale/retail trade, all of which are unsuitable for remote-working. This makes it even more important for governments to do more than just overlook the impact that womxn have made during the COVID pandemic. According to Women 20 (W20), it is vital that governments: 1. Validate womxn’s active participation and leadership in COVID-19 response and beyond 2. Collect and disseminate sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics on womxn’s economic status during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/20/world/asia/china-tv-women-coronavirus.html?searchResultPosition=1

https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/7/statement-joint-w20-women-during-covid-19-and-beyond

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/business/coronavirus-china-nurse-menstruation.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article


Article by: Liana Shi

Edited by: Lauren Li


graphic by: Savannah Frederiksen