Women leaders combating Covid-19

Who are the outstanding women leaders facing the COVID-19?

Worldwide many countries are under confinement for over weeks or months. For leaders and governments, it is a challenge to combat the novel virus that started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

According to the COVID-19 Dashboard of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the United States of America, Spain, Italy, and France are leading the list of countries with a higher rate of cases and deaths.

On the order hand, countries such as South Sudan, Papua New Guinea, and Yemen have a lower number of cases and no deaths (as of the 15th, April).

This week, Forbes magazine listed seven women leaders who had the best outperformance fight against the virus in contrast to the male heads of state. From Women Wheel blog, we would like to highlight who are these women.

1- Jacinda Arden, the Primer Minister of New Zealand,  who said this week in a press conference: “I miss people.” 

According to statistics, the cases of infection have decreased over the past days;  however, she will not lift the strict lockdown measures. 
When there were only 6 cases confirmed in New Zealand, the Primer Minister imposed self-isolation for people entering the country and banned foreigners to enter. These clear decisions taken at an early stage can be reasons they are getting over the coronavirus with fewer deaths.

2- Tsai -Ing -wen, is the first female president in Taiwan. At the outbreak of the coronavirus, she took a quick response that avoided the country from facing a storm.

The president introduced aggressive measures such as a 14 day-quarantine to people who had been in Macau and Hong Kong, the rationing of masks, and restriction entry of travellers from parts of China.

Another significant response of Taiwan was their readiness and preparation for another pandemic. After their experience in 2003 with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), they established the Command Center of Epidemia where the gathered data,  research was done, and immediately isolated for patients who had the coronavirus was exercised.

3-Mette Frederiksen, the Danish Prime Minister, said: “We will not return to Denmark as it was before March 6”. 

This Nordic European country was one of the first ones to impose lockdown on the 12th of March. After a month, some schools and nurseries were reopened this Wednesday with a lot of restrictions. The Danish Primer Minister welcomed children at the Valby School.

4-Katrí­n Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Prime Minister, stepped up early to attack the crisis by reducing flights to Iceland, canceling of events, and others. In Iceland, testing for the coronavirus was randomized, which has a significant implication for the rest of the world.

5-Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland and the youngest in the world. Since her first press conference, she has demonstrated serenity and security to addressing the country.

She trigged an emergency power act at an early stage of the crisis; for instance, by allowing children of key workers, such as nurses and doctors, to go kindergartens and by using social media influences as crucial characters in combating the pandemic.

6-Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, addressed the country in a calm way: “It is serious, take it seriously”.

Angela grew up in communist East Germany, so her knowledge of given up freedom is comprehensive. Sharing her story probably got engagement with her citizens. “For someone like me, for whom freedom of travel and movement were a hard-won right, such restrictions can only be justified by absolute necessity”, she said, in making a statement at the media reading on the spread of the coronavirus.

7-Erna Solberg, Norway´s Prime Minister, was very creative by using the television show to talk to children about the situation and answering their questions. She said to them: “It is Ok to be scared when so many things happen at the same time”.

Besides the above leaders, please let’s not forget all the other women who are frontliners of this crisis.

On the blog, LSE Sanam Naraghi Anderlini Director of the Centre for Women, wrote an article titled Women Peace and Security in the Time of Corona, which describes four stages of women’s role in this pandemic.

She states that women not only dominate the 70% of the health care, “they also dominate the community social work and civil society sectors, and they too are stepping up to the threats. In Iraq, for example, Fatima Al Bahadly, teacher, peacebuilder and founder of the Ferdows Foundation is leading the charge in community awareness-raising and care about corona”.

Facing this crisis is like being on a roller coaster, so let’s continue our good work and move this wheel. 

Women’s role in facing crisis

Today is my 15th, day of self-isolation in the north of Europe.  After a long dark, gray, gloomy autumn and odd winter, spring is finally here. We now have sunny and longer days with a strong desire to be outside enjoying it. But, unfortunately, that is not the scenario since we need to be indoors and take care of ourselves because of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which is a worldwide pandemic. 

During these months of the crisis, a lot of people are working to give us services that we need. Among these are health professionals, public workers, social workers and others. Thanks to their great work plus our self-awareness, we are coping with the crisis.

I would like to highlight in these lines the work and situation of 3 different groups of women that are living with this crisis:  

Women at home (mother, wife, partner)

The hashtag #Stayhome had become very popular on social networks to raise awareness for people to stay indoors to reduce the spread of the virus. However, home is not a safe place for many women who experience gender violence at home.

According to the World Health Organization worldwide, nearly one in three women (30 per cent) have experienced physical or sexual violence committed by their intimate partners, and 7 per cent have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partner. 

Most of these gender violences occur at home; however, many countries lawfully recognize  this violence as a crime and not as a domestic or private matter.

“During this COVID 19 crisis, domestic violence is on the rise. “Code grays” (situations where a hostile visitor and/or patient needing security intervention) and “code emergency department lockdown” (police escort hostile individual from hospital premises) are noted more regularly during this pandemic. Front line health care providers are here to provide a holistic approach of care”, said a friend who is an ER nurse working Upstate New York, United States of America.

The campaign against gender violence titled  Mascarilla-19 (mask-19) is being implemented in Spain where women under gender violence can go to the pharmacy and say: I want a mask-19, in that case, the seller will know and call for help. 

A lot of mothers are currently doing remote work, and so are their children studying, from home. So, for these moms,  a time off for them to relax can be nullified or reduced. 

Another factor for these women is space at home. It is recommended that everyone has their space to work, study, or chill out. But the reality can be another since home space is reduced for many families. My friends that are moms have commented that  it is “not an easy road”. 

For single women there are advantages of not dealing with spousal, partner, or children tension in these moments of crisis. But the challenge may rely that a single woman may fall into depression and a state of loneliness due to the fact of self-isolation for a long period of time. Therefore, it is crucial that a single person receive the necessary support by a simple phone call, text message or via social media. 

Domestic workers and cleaners

Regardless of the danger, they face many needs to continue working for an income since in many cases they are single mothers, immigrant women, and  are from an impoverished class. 

In many countries, they are not protected by the labour law, they don’t have suitable equipment, don’t have basic cleaning supplies (especially for this crisis), get a lot of sexual harassments, and more. 

In Spain for example, the Servicio Domestico Activo- SEDOAC (Active Domestic Service) along with other women organizations are campaigning to be aware to “take care of whom takes care of you”.


A friend of mine who works during her free time as a nurse (she is currently a student in Finland) told me that she had her first encounter with  a patient who tested  positive for coronavirus. She did her job and used all the precaution equipment. I think that is a brave action. 

Even though  it is a critical situation, for her, it is more positive to work out rather than sitting at  home. However, after being with the patient, she manifested being  worried and having post-panic thoughts. 

A story like this is what thousands of nurses and doctors are living day by day worldwide to battle the virus. 

All these women and others are heroines in all the countries affected by the virus. The question is how are they coping after their working shift  and going home to their family,  or being alone, Are they getting any advice, psychological help, support group etc.? 

In many countries, citizens daily go to their balcony and applaud these brave women and men. I would say keep it up. But also health care providers need the government and health organizations to provide them with the necessary equipment’s to protect themselves better of contracting the Covid-19 virus.

When and how is this going to end? It Is uncertain. But it is clear that we are going to have a post-pandemic world crisis, there will be a severe impact on business, sports, culture, education, climate, and human being behaviour; for example, greeting with a kiss or shaking hands probably will be stopped. These bigger scenarios will have other implications in our society that probably we do not even imagine. 

So, the next time you want to leave your house without any strong argument, please think about the thousands of women and men that daily are leaving their loved ones or using their  time to serve us. They are human beings and, therefore, need our help.