- Date : 15/12/2020
- Read: 5 mins
Women are emerging as the frontline warriors in the fight against COVID-19 by leading key organisations and quietly working in villages to help the vulnerable in different ways.
Ever since a nationwide lockdown was announced in March this year, the battle against the COVID-19 virus found strength with the contribution of thousands of corona warriors. Women, in particular, have made extraordinary efforts to help the less fortunate in these trying times. Along with empathy and kindness, they have displayed exemplary grit and courage to lead India’s fight against the virus - both from the front and quietly from behind the scenes.
Here are some inspirational women who worked night and day against all odds to combat the impact of the deadly novel coronavirus on human health and society.
Minal Dakhave Bhosale
Minal Dakhave Bhosale, a virologist and R&D chief at Mylab, a Pune-based diagnostic company, developed India’s first COVID testing kit in March - at a time when the country had the lowest testing rates in the world. She developed the coronavirus test kit called PathoDetect in just six weeks, hours before delivering her baby. And just days after leaving the hospital with pregnancy complications, Minal began working on the programme in February. Despite her own health condition, her job took precedence as she worked relentlessly and continued to serve the country and its citizens during this national health emergency. Assisted by 10 team members, Minal was instrumental in creating an affordable kit that detected the viral infection in two-and-a-half hours, as opposed to the imported ones that took 6-7 hours. This made more aggressive testing and immediate treatment possible.
As programme coordinator of Avani Foundation in Kolhapur, Anuradha Bhosale has strived for the welfare of the waste-pickers’ community since 1995. Her organisation not only provides shelter and food aided by government-funded community kitchens in Maharashtra but also advocates for the rights of waste-pickers and the education of their children. Essential contributors to society, yet often neglected, waste-pickers are foot soldiers in the fight against the pandemic. Since waste-picking during the pandemic exposes them to the lethal virus, Anuradha provided them with masks, gloves, and other protective gear to ensure their safety. Additionally, she has reached out to over 400 families in a bid to raise money to support 2200 families.
When COVID-19 cases were surging at a high rate in Odisha, the Mission Shakti department led by Sujata Kartikeyan realised the importance of prevention and dived right into making masks. Mission Shakti initiated women self-help groups (SHGs) across Odisha to start mass production of masks to help protect the community and medics. Approximately 605 SHGs have made 15 lakh cotton masks, and around 7000 SHGs are working round the clock to produce protection gear for essential and frontline workers. Under Sujata’s guidance, more than 6700 female employees of Mission Shakti are running 5000+ free community kitchens in collaboration with the local authorities. They have worked to provide free cooked meals to 3.27 lakh people in rural areas and 25,000 people in 108 urban districts.
Tina Dabi is an IAS officer whose containment strategy of a possible coronavirus hotspot became one of India’s early successes in the fight against the pandemic. Tina, a sub-divisional magistrate of Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district, spearheaded the containment strategy and minimised the spread of the virus on a war footing. Her team clocked gruelling 18-20-hour workdays to ensure the entire population was surveyed and screened so that suspected cases could be quarantined and treated. Tina and her team stopped the virus in its tracks with only one active case recorded as on May 11. Her swift action against the spread of the virus has been lauded both nationally and internationally, and her strategy is being used as a model in other parts of the country.
Monikered as the ‘coronavirus slayer’ Kerala’s health minister, KK Shailaja has been lauded globally for her effective management and leadership in successfully handling the outbreak in her state and bringing down the cases to zero at a time. The United Nations also honoured her for her efforts. With experience in handling the Nipah virus outbreak, the former teacher, adopted swift action against the COVID-19 pandemic. Long before the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, her government opened a control room to deal with the situation, made plans to isolate people, including home quarantine, and monitored the existing provisions of equipment including N95 masks, and PPE equipment. Her three point-strategy of having patient-friendly government hospitals, high-tech facilities, and reduced out-of-pocket expenditure for the patient strengthened the Kerala healthcare system and successfully battled the outbreak.
While women in key positions have played a major role in battling the virus, we must not forget the hard work and service of the many silent but resilient corona warriors. Nurses, female sanitation workers, fruit-and-vegetable vendors, and women from other walks of life have made a significant contribution towards the welfare of millions of Indian citizens during this public health crisis.