International Women’s Day: Celebrating The Power, Resilience And Heart of Women Around The World During Covid-19

The global impact of Covid-19 has not only had massive economic ramifications for women both here in Aotearoa and around the world, it has also placed an extraordinary burden on women having to shoulder the disruption caused by having to suddenly homeschool or lose out on child care options. The community aspect that women thrive upon has also been taken from so many of us because of lockdowns or inability to see friends and family. But women, while often challenged, are far from defeated. This International Women’s Day, we wanted to honour the strength, resilience and heart shown by women around the world battling these unprecedented set of circumstances. For many, Covid-19 has added layers of hardship to a life that was already full of it but still, they rise. Tearfund/Compassion sat down with women from all around the world, aged from 18 to 91, all connected by the beauty of sponsorship, to sit for a portrait and a kõrero about their lives.

Ecuador – Angelita, 91, Grandmother
“Everything happened very fast. My children told me that I could not leave the house, that I should not approach anyone, and that I should wear a facemask all the time. At that time I was very afraid. Something like this had never happened to me. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I left my house and walked up the mountain. Everything was closed. Empty streets. It was as if all the people had disappeared.  I’m afraid of not knowing what will happen to my children and grandchildren. I don’t have many years left to live, but my grandchildren’s lives are just beginning. I want a world of peace, without discrimination, without evil. A world where men and women are treated the same and where there is no more violence against women, we are like roses. Beautiful, unique, and special. Our thorns are life lessons and challenges that we overcome every day. Our destiny is to fight and grow with the sunlight, no matter how intense the wind or rain is.”

New Zealand – Bex, 40, Mother, Archeologist and Teacher
“Our Kiwi family was teaching and living in Sudan last year when we decided to head into the desert for a week-long holiday to view the pyramids. When we came back, we had over 280 missed messages, countless calls, the airport was closed, and the world was in lockdown. Covid showed us how resilient our family was. Now that we’re back in New Zealand I think isolation was tough for Mums because we really miss that social interaction and the simple pleasures like the chance to have coffee with a friend.  I’m a teacher so I knew how to teach my kids at home, but for all my friends that they weren’t teachers, that’s a huge task to put on parents.” 

Burkina Faso – Beatrice, 33, Mother and Fabric Weaver
“Before Covid I could earn $120(NZD) per month from weaving and selling local fabric. When the pandemic hit the country and led to all the restrictions, I lost 80% of my income. My husband couldn’t do his construction work and we had to adjust our expenses so the kids could be served at least one meal per day. Women face a lot of issues in my community. There are no formal jobs for women – they must stay at home or run small businesses to support their families. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity [through Tearfund/ Compassion] to know how to weave and make local fabric. Before Covid-19, my husband used to come back late from work in the evening and the kids used to go to bed without seeing their father. But during quarantine, we had more time together as a family. That is something positive that has come from the crisis.”

Canada – Becky, 29, New Mother
“I’ve often found myself grieving and readjusting the expectations I had for this season of life as I’ve attended each midwife, ultrasound, and doctor’s appointment alone due to Covid restrictions. This year was made more challenging when my husband’s Dad passed away and we couldn’t say goodbye to him due to lockdown rules – a tragedy I know that many other families have also experienced. I believe the uncertainty has forced me to become more grateful for the things I can be sure of, like the love I have for my family and friends.”

Brazil – Danielly, 38, Capoeirista (teaches a form of martial art)
“When the pandemic hit our country, it made all our problems more visible. With the lockdown, crime increased, children who were idle at home were more easily attracted to gangs to earn some money, and domestic violence cases increased drastically. Before the pandemic, my husband was about to get a new job in a local factory, but all the new contracts were canceled due to the lockdown. Throughout the pandemic, we had no work, and the situation was challenging at home. Women are always more impacted than men by crises. Fortunately, I am privileged to have a good husband, but I hear cases of women killed or beaten by their husbands every day. With the lack of jobs, the entire emotional burden of households fell on women.

United States – Ashlea, 34, Mum and Former Schoolteacher
“If I had to choose one word to describe women, I’d choose ‘stubborn’. ‘Stubborn’ gets a bad rap, but [I mean] the stubborn resilience where you’re just going to get things done. Women just get stuff done. I believe we can challenge our society to change in a way that positively benefits women through our particular sphere of influence. I’m a mom and a teacher. That’s my sphere of influence. I will be able to influence my daughter to be a strong woman. I will influence my son and teach him how to respect women and to not have a negative bias towards women.”

Bolivia –  Yhvona, 33
“When the pandemic hit, I had practically nothing: no supplies or milk for my children. They hadn’t paid my husband at work and then they fired him. In the first days of the pandemic, we didn’t have food. Our breakfast was water with cinnamon. I decided to help on a pig farm. We received chicken guts to feed the pigs. So, I collected the nicer intestines to bring home to my children, to cook and eat.”

Kenya – Anne, 44, Teacher
“I’m a teacher but because the schools closed, we had to stay home without work. Because I was the breadwinner, the stress of the situation gave me stomach ulcers. It really broke my heart knowing that I was not going to be able to provide for my family. My child is sponsored through Tearfund/Compassion and with their help I opened a grocery store and now I am able to provide for my family.”

For more information on Tearfund/Compassion, visit here

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