“Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”

on 08 Mar, 2021

Dalmadih (India), 8/03/2021, Sr. Anney Chumar Maniamkot.- MARCH 8: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021. International Women's Day is a global celebration which highlights achievements of women, women's equality and a call for change.

United Nations has announced the theme for International Women’s Day, 2021 “as “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”[1]

Women stood at the front lines in combating the Pandemic with their knowledge, skill and efficient networking as heads of the national governments in 21 countries across the world, as professionals, health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organizers. The crisis has emphasized both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry both in their professional and family life.

The world health organization conducted an analysis on 104 countries and the result was that 70% of global healthcare work force is made up of women caring patients through regular interaction, offering them not just physical attention but emotional and mental care which is most needed when a patient struggle to live through the effects of this deadly disease. They stood at high risk, many of them contacted the virus while in service and many countries witnessed the tragic death of the health care professionals during this crisis. “ICN confirms that 1500 nurses have died from COVID-19 in 44 countries and estimates that healthcare worker COVID-19 fatalities worldwide could be more than 20,000.”[2]

In spite of their contribution to the society at all levels, representation of women in national and global policy spaces is disproportionate.

Pandemic lock down increased the gender based domestic violence on women in all its forms (physical, psychological and sexual). The Global study on homicide report that “gender-related killing of women and girls by the United Nations shows that every year 50,000 women are killed in the context of gender-based violence and family relationships.”[3] Women undergo unemployment and poverty and if they are employed, they are either unpaid or unjustly paid.

Though in modern India, more and more educated women are coming up in all spheres of life and are entering into varied professional fields, a slow and steady awareness is happening in our society regarding the rights of women and to avoid mistreating them and seeing them as objects of possession.

There is still a large section of Indian women who are uneducated and married off before the age of 18. As per the census of 2011, the female literacy stands at 65.46% compared to 82.14% of males. Statistics say that close to 245 million Indian women lack the basic capability to read and write, which is a large number. The sex ratio (943 females per 1000 males), of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against female, and a lot of work needs to be done in this context.  About 41% women in India make their living by manual labour. 

From the reality of our being as women, consecrated to the service of charity in the spirit and charism of Marie Poussepin, the sisters of the Province of India serve with compassion and responsibility and work directly with women from economically, socially and culturally backward societies and who tolerate situations of marginalization, exploitation and violence since they are not often able to defend their rights, with great attention on empowering them.

Through a careful process of cultivating consciousness of their rights and enabling them to claim it, our sisters move beyond borders of cultural and religious bondages in our caste-based society of India. Through our efforts, many of these poor women have learned to say no to a “culture of silence” and started to raise their voices with responsibility through critical education and affirmative action in our social service centres in Bangalore, Basti, Dalmadi, Dhulkot and Paruthiyoor. This requires years of formation through establishment of self-help groups of women, offering possibility for self-employment, economic stability to their families and learning financial management. They are formed to reflect together, discuss and share their concerns and learn to break their silence and become leaders with determination and courage to demand for equal treatment in society.

“It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.” said Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu monk (1863-1902).

Pope Francis continues to inspire us saying that “it is unacceptable that some have fewer rights by virtue of being women, it is likewise unacceptable that the mere place of one’s birth or residence should result in his or her possessing fewer opportunities for a developed and dignified life.”[4]

This is one way of living our commitment to “search for justice in solidarity with the poorest. With them, we fight misery, ignorance, and disease down to their very roots, in order to live the Gospel with them.” C. 27.


[1]https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/11/announcer-international-womens-day-2021.

[2]International Council of Nurses, ICN News October 20, 2020.

[3]https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/GSH2018/GSH18_Gender-related_killing_of_women_and_girls.pdf

[4]Fratelli Tutti 121.