The resilience of women

(Courtesy of Bhabna Banerjee)

Everywhere I go, I see women in leadership positions. Whether it’s being a mother, a teacher, a front-line worker dealing with COVID-19 head-on, an essential worker battling the challenges with it in their everyday life, or a government official.

This pandemic has brought to the surface the significant role women play in society. Whether it be cashing you out at the grocery store, watching your children at the child care center, teaching your children in-person, or through an online academic setting, women everywhere have risen to the challenge.

Joanne Thomas is a wife, mother, and now a teacher. She explains that to succeed, “women must be mentally strong.” Women understand that they must stay strong to run and manage their household, keep their children entertained and engaged in online learning, and keep their family safe and healthy.

COVID-19’s impact on working mothers and its overall impact on the female workforce cannot be ignored as women have been for many years. The plight that women have faced in the past, for centuries, is not a secret. And yet, here we are again with women facing long term economic impacts as the aftermath to the pandemic — even though many women find themselves taking on additional roles they would typically not have before the pandemic.

Thomas’ four children, ranging in age from seven to 18 years old, no longer attend in-person classes; they learn from home through an online setting. She is not a teacher who has gone to school and earned a license to work with a school board — but she took on the role of a teacher anyway when the pandemic shut down schools and her children came to her to understand what they should be doing in their lessons. 

For Thomas, she must be involved with her children’s education and for this to be successful, she has set up her home so that each child has their own space to talk and engage with their teachers online. She states that the teachers give the students their lessons, but they do not have the time to explain the lessons to each student through an online format. This is where she comes in. 

Thomas must take the time needed to learn the lessons herself, to explain to her children how to complete their work, and what the teacher expects of them. 

When her children attended school in person, Thomas would help them with their homework, but they could always go back to school and ask their teacher for more help or more direction. She describes her new role as becoming both a teacher and now a student, on top of her duties as a wife and mother managing her family’s household as well. 

“You can only be conquered if you can’t adapt to change.”

Thomas is just one example of the pattern of resiliency women exhibit across the world everyday. Each day globally, mothers, wives, and single mothers begin with simple things like making sure their kids are signed in to the online portal for school and proceed from there throughout the day. On top of completing other household items, their own careers and professional meetings, females have had to step up to every plate.

“You can only be conquered if you can’t adapt to change,” advises Thomas. 

Some women (and their children) even find themselves dealing with these challenges on top of the added obstacles presented by being locked into an abusive home. Other women who don’t have children yet are likely still battling glass ceilings, and what makes this battle worse is the pandemic forcing females back after years of progress by allowing males to go to work while their female counterparts are the ones usually staying home with the kids.

So take a second and reflect, how many women have you noticed rising to the challenges of COVID-19? 

Let’s take a moment to show our respect and appreciation for all that women do for and in our lives. Find a woman who has helped you in some way and give them a hug — or simply let them know how you feel and how much you appreciate what they have done. 

During the height of the pandemic in and around downtown Toronto, residents would come out and cheer and applaud front-line workers just to show the respect, admiration, and appreciation they had for them. Everyone should practice this level of gratitude and kindness on a regular basis, not just for first responders but for women in general.

Some people might feel that this is not necessary, but hearing it always makes a person feel noticed and celebrated. It can make the difference between having an okay day and a great day. Whether you are a child, an adult, a student, a husband, or even a manager, show the women around you that you value them — show them this everyday. 

Thomas leaves us with a wonderful sentiment directed to women everywhere during trying moments of doubt: “When COVID-19 is an afterthought, what remains is the resilience and strength we had to blaze through it.”

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By Stephanie Anderson

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