I feel delighted, with some degree of trepidation, to be able to reach out to members and friends. Since the last month the normal day to day life has gone upside down to say the least. Few normal activities have gone and new ones grown, it is a crisis that has been faced by each and every person in their own way. I would like to share and reach out with positive solidarity my experiences in the last month.
A big section of my daily routine was working as a dentist that has stopped completely due to high risk of airborne infection, with a job that relies on face to face proximity working. Moving to advice over the phone is not the same I can assure you; at its best very frustrating. The profession has produced strict regulations accordingly. I found myself involved in more than one society and professional forum to try and find the best way forward. I am part of the continuous professional discussion, looking at evidence coming from national and international sources to assess how to provide emergency care locally. Having the experience of fit testing to the highly sought after FFP3 masks is quite an eye opener, it was part of volunteering to be in the emergency local hub. I do believe that going back to work will have a new normal with added layers of more definitive PPE.
Communication with the board of UWE has been more frequent, bouncing between formal and informal, that reflected on how we reach out to each other on a personal and formal level. The expanding virtual world that we live in has grown exponentially in the last month. My local Canterbury (CAWG) group has stopped meeting; I was not able to see any of them but social distancing worked to reduce or flatten the curve that we all are eager to watch on a daily basis. New normal came with new words like Zoom, Teams and Skype. I am sure once we get back to work there will be more….. I was fortunate to expand my virtual friends network, and reached out to wider European and International links; while with family and close friends, I lost the joyful social outings replaced by face time and house party! I sensed the worry in the voice of the more vulnerable sections of our society, it made me more focused on social distancing.
With reaching out to new horizons for me I joined a wider group to listen & participate in a monthly NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting from New York done through ZOOM (this important new word) to discuss Covid -19 and Feminist action.
The chairwoman Houry Geudelekian welcomed 284 participants. I had to scroll through the participants to see if I recognised any and to my delight Catriona Sutherland from Graduate Women Scotland was in that list. Houry reassured participants that the work continues even with lock down, namely Beijing +25. Her vice president Ivy Koek followed by introducing the speakers. The range was global, impressive and all with current work that helps in solidarity. To summarise I shall mention some with brief indication to what they discussed:
Vivek Rai UN liaison reported on rise in violence against women and the need to stay in contact with marginalized communities who might find it difficult to access a virtual space to get the support.
Marianna Leite on behalf of the alliance for gender justice emphasized the care for each other even if we don’t know them and this is so vital during this period at all levels.
Tesa Arzqueta delivered an impressive take on the response in NY city against domestic violence and the importance of what they created as a one stop shop walk in center for family justice. A question to our leaders is how much of this model is available in other cities.
Bridget Burnes (University Innovation Alliance) spoke about feminist alliances around the world and keeping the momentum going will be significant in our new normal.
Last but not least Anushka Kalyanpur, a graduate of the very first course on rapid gender analysis, gave statistics on the increase in unpaid care roles for women. Her work gave solid facts about current reduction in health care in relation to access for sexual reproduction, and the global awareness of the increase in violence against women.
The gain and the loss of this period will make up my new normal.
Vice president University Women of Europe