Women in times of crisis: The Covid-19 pandemic

During the past couple of years, the whole world lived a reality like no other. Since 2020, people were holding their breath trying to figure out how to stay safe while trying to manage a different new lifestyle titled with social isolation, financial pressure, a novel Covid-19-related glossary, and an increase in mental health problems. The virus that stopped the ongoing life of an entire planet managed to apply a change on many different levels, yet it could not affect the significance of being a woman or a girl in a time of crisis. The “female resilience journey during the covid-19 crisis”, as the British Council in Morocco called it, manifested the powerful leadership skills women have and how mothers can shoulder the extra burden, especially if the case is a working mother.

The International Women’s Day website mentioned that “there is something incredibly powerful about sharing the journey of women”, let alone the journey of millions of women during a global pandemic, showing up too many essential jobs and being in the front line while the world was in lockdown.

Remote work was a common resolution to overcome the effects of the coronavirus, yet for women, it was not an ideal situation, particularly for mothers. Employed mothers who were working from home during the pandemic were tremendously tenacious and reliable, though it is not an easy thing to do.

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, said in a message on International Women’s Day: “We celebrate women and girls everywhere. We celebrate their contributions to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Their ideas, innovations, and activism that are changing our world for the better. And their leadership across all walks of life.”

Moroccan women played a significant role in the response to combating the Covid-19 pandemic. According to UN Women, women account for 57% of medical staff, 66% of paramedical staff, and 64% of social sector civil servants. This shows how vital is the part that women play in Moroccan society which was obvious during the pandemic.

Sarah Kaddour, a dentist who works in a clinic in Casablanca, told her three-times-covid-positive story to SNRTnews. Being amongst a medical staff during a pandemic undoubtedly doubles the pressure, but the fact that she had the coronavirus three times made her even more terrified and more cautious. Kaddour was worried to infect her family members which led to her following a strict social distancing protocol. She said that due to being a doctor, she became committed to being an ideal example when it comes to following precautionary measures. For her, these past couple of years were filled with stress.

During the pandemic, Maimouna Amidan from Dakhla founded a social work center called Taiba to help women integrate into society in a time of crisis. Amidan explained to Le360 in an interview that one of the main causes to establish this center was the unpleasant reality women lived in which was unveiled by the covid-19 pandemic. Taiba is a center that helps women from different ages greatly enhance their part in their community and give consultancy to women who were victims of abuse. Aicha is an old widowed mother of six unemployed children, she tried to find a job to save herself and her kids from poverty in the pandemic, yet she did not find one. In her interview with Alhurra, Aicha explained how she had no solution but to sell homemade bread in the streets so she can feed her children and avoid the social and economic effects of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic represents a period that emphasized the important role of Moroccan women in a time of crisis, yet it also exposed the truth about women’s rights in real life and how these rights are largely ignored. As António Guterres said: “We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality. We need to turn the clock forward on women’s rights. The time is now.”

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