Manjo Sheik, a 25-year-old entrepreneur from India, says women have multiple obstacles to overcome.
This is an age where pandemics are raging, millions live in war-torn strife, yet women are judged on their skin tones and height, says matchmaker Hirion Shah.
"I was told to wait and cry it out. How could I explain to them that I have been crying for years? That was not the solution," asks Azra Zeng, a divorced mother of four in an interview with IPS. "I wanted to speak to someone. I wanted to seek help where I could feel whole again. It felt that I was dying from inside, but no one could see."
Telemedicine and health-related information have experienced a massive uptake since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. While online health services are seen as a panacea for many ills, disinformation and fake news reports have tarnished their credibility.
Screens, devices, and smartphones replaced the human touch and day-to-day interactions as COVID-19 protocols forced millions of people into harsh lockdowns and prolonged isolation.
For Dr Farzana Khan, a frontline worker and a second-generation immigrant from Pakistan living in California, social media helped her connect and realign herself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A cherished snapshot of a happy mother and a smiling grandmother is universally associated with a good childhood. In the movies, TV, or media, a broken or depressed mother’s face is hardly seen. But the reality is somewhat different. The measures communities and society take to ensure that women and girls are protected and supported are often questioned.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign
marked the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) at a time when COVID-19 exacerbated the conditions women operate under.
This year, the world commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, instead of celebration; however, its progress has been impeded by the COVID-19.
“This is a crisis without a quick fix that could take years to resolve unless there are concerted efforts to address its root causes”, says Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way people value working from home, career building, and their overall approach to utilising downtime.
It has blurred out the lines between hobby, casual reading, and how time is spent away from work.
Romana Hoque had it all, a comfortable life, a happy family. Despite this, the 43-year-old second-generation immigrant from Indonesia living in the United States was depressed enough to contemplate suicide.
Eight years ago, at the age of eleven, Fuzia co-founder Riya Sinha decided to start a writing club for school girls. Stemming from this initiative a few years later Sinha, along with co-founder Shraddha Varma, decided to start the online platform for women. Their story and Fuzia's DNA are intrinsically wrapped around each other – and highlight how even in the age of feminism where women’s voices tend to be drowned out, a platform for them can become a global success.
A girl has many roles. She can be a daughter, a mother, a friend, a wife or a sister. But her first and foremost introduction is a person, a human and a voice. No matter what remote or accessible part she may belong to, her story is unique and belongs only to her own. And if a thought-provoking, positive platform echo her voice, it can achieve wonders.
“What do you think happens to kerosene when it is poured on your head?”
Surya stumbles as she speaks to IPS. “It goes down, it goes trickling down.”
When someone speaks to a burn victim, one naturally feels shocked, sad, and sympathetic. But in talking to Surya, who has the major part of her body burned, the feelings were of hope and inspiration. How is it possible to survive this trauma and still have so much love and joy to share?
A young and dynamic digital platform, named Fuzia, has attracted millions of women social media followers and 100,000 active global users with its eclectic mix of content. The platform showcases women’s talent and provides a support network.
Maliha Masud (25), was promised an affluent life and opportunities for higher education. A bright student studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, she wanted to complete her studies and become someone her parents would be proud of. She was promised an opportunity to get her Master’s degree from a good university in the United States but, two years later, was left battered and wounded at the doorstep of a shelter.
The World Health Organization (2019) states that every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide
. Annually, this represents over 800,000 people
, more than the number of people who die in conflict and by homicide put together. Every suicide is a tragedy that has long-lasting effects on the people left behind and most cases stem from prolonged mental health issues and abuses that are not reported.
As the COVID-19 mayhem carries on in most countries, the role of mothers, daughters, and female caregivers have been affected the most. Besides looking after the household and home schooling children, they are also working on the front lines, actively or passively caring for their respective communities.
For a Bangladeshi woman, who has worked as a sex worker since childhood, her future post-COVID-19 looks hopeless.
Shilpy, who works at Daulatdia, the largest brothel in the country, told IPS how she now also fears for the future of her two daughters.
“I come from Baglung District, a part of Dhawalagiri Zone in Nepal. My house overlooks the river. Do you know, our district is known for the suspension bridges?”, her eyes glimmer for a fraction of a second and then she breathes a heavy sigh! Her right hand is still wrapped in a scarf, while with the other she pats her 17-month-old. “If I ever get a chance I will take you to my village, we have a lot of medicinal plants.” She pauses while tears roll down as she continues our Facetime session. “I was 16 when I had my first child and I was 17 when my arm was broken by my mother-in-law.”