- Why women have a special perspective of pandemic
- 2 types of silver lining
- Guidelines for handling pandemic experientially
- 5 practices for snapping out of serial bad news
- 3 reasons for cautious optimism.
Why Women Have a Special Perspective
Gender Inequality Deepens
Deepening gender inequality because of pandemic-provoked recession is a serious issue for women because the virus is still gaining ground worldwide. Is it winning? Hopefully not – but it is a grave issue all the same, with multiple consequences, unlikely to end even when the mass production of the vaccine reaches us.
I focus on the current pandemic-rooted issues as they relate to women. Why? Because I am one, and because I recently authored a book about how women make it in America, and also because I host The Bridge for Women Worldwide, a 5,000-subscribers-strong talk-show by women and for women—so I learned hands-on that women are the demographic who can use quick guidelines to do better.
Facts from the Press
Major media outlets – including weekly issues of The Economist– report that the unfolding pandemic-rooted recession is the worst we have seen since WWII. As different from the previous recessions, it struck mostly face-to-face/relationship-based businesses – like hospitality, restaurants, schools, and healthcare. And this resulted in the women-dominated industries shutting down the most, which enhanced gender inequality even more, as shown at the graph below:
Whether the temporary layoffs will become permanent or not is unclear. Even education and healthcare have not been spared, with 5 times as many women losing their jobs as men. This is a plain gender inequality. The higher-skilled women are less likely to lose their jobs than lower-skilled ones, the most vulnerable demographic under the pandemic, according to major media.
Additionally, the Time magazine summarized the burning issue of violence against women on the rise worldwide, due to the Covid-19 pandemic—a direct product of deepening inequality and helplessness of the fair sex.
Why Women Become More Vulnerable
Today we see two kinds of scenarios when women become more vulnerable:
- A worse-case scenario are women from service industries who cannot work from home.
- A better-case scenario are women who work from home – along with their husbands – and they are happy they have jobs; however, they get interrupted by kids 50% as much. Most childcare plus household chores are on them, so quality of their work suffers. For example, academic journals report less submissions from women, while men’s submissions remain the same level. Somehow, men always get an easier ride.
In both scenarios, the safest outcome for women may be to look around for a new job—at places where one can search jobs across the whole Internet. Surprisingly, they are not too many. Here is one: a modern search engine of Jooble, for example, enables us to find positions across the world, from the comfort of our homes.
Any Silver Lining in View?
Yes, there is. Not everything looks grim. There is a silver lining to the pandemic situation for women, of 2 types:
Silver Lining Type 1: It is about the positive numbers, as the remote working became normal: before the pandemic, only one in 50 Americans worked from home full-time. By April, more than one in three did—a huge difference—and many of them are women. That is be good news for mothers who pick jobs that fit around their children, with more forgiving hours and less commute.
Silver lining Type 2: The new norms for labor distribution at the home front – with more involvement of men – benefit women big time. Every little helps, right?
Is the silver lining all-positive? NO! Why? Because with more total household workload to include hands-on childcare, women are thrown back in time to probably the 50-s of the previous century.
To maintain special perspective in balance, we women need to keep in mind that although there are two types of silver linings in place, fatigue from lockdown and social distancing situation is accumulating in both men and women—and it stains relationships. The prize for our patience is big: it is life itself plus a good family life!
Who Is Best Handling the Pandemic?
Blitzkrieg on Coronavirus Unlikely BUT…
Not only I have never been a full-pledged optimist in my entire life, but my deeply ingrained distrust to overly optimistic people regularly proved that it’s safer to remain a sceptic. And when I heard back in March-2020 – from the then-President – that the coronavirus-induced lockdown will be over by Easter, by magic, I dismissed it as a political prank.
Stuck at home and minding mostly my own business, I felt a relief hearing that our new administration-2021 retracted from being a medical Wehrmacht that can announce a Blitzkrieg on the pandemic—and win it! We indeed feel safer in the hands of the medical professionals.
With the new funding poured into vaccinating America, we, the people, are going to sit it out at our homes, pondering the news, and hoping for the best. After all, hope dies last, they say, or “esperanza muere última” in Spanish—I just love how it sounds!
Meanwhile, waiting for the whole country to reach the herd immunity and be safer, how shall we snap out of the multiple death’s facts and consequent negative thinking, which is making the matters worse? There are the ways. Here are two snapshots from how the world handled the pandemic.
¡No pasarán! – Chinese style
Reading the news, we can see how most countries focus on counteracting, controlling, and stopping the pandemic. No Pasaran, meaning ‘they shall not pass’ (the phrase from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, used by the soldiers fighting against Franco and the Falangists) is the inspiring slogan. But what country is the most effective in its war on coronavirus?
In the US, many blame the government for moving too slow in rolling-out the people’s safety net. It is true, they started late and proceeded both slowly and ineffectively. However, let us remember that America is not China, and we cannot fully imitate the most effective Chinese ways of stifling the pandemic, even if effective. Why? Because China used massive surveillance coupled with forceful limitations of individuals’ privacy rights, unthinkable in true democracies.
Therefore, for months America was adding cases at a faster pace than Italy in the beginning of its outbreak, which was a classic fast pace. Too bad, but what is to be done?
We still need to pick up the best practices at home and abroad, period.
Good International Practices
Take France and its ways to handle the pandemic better than some other Europeans, at least not dragging their feet at the beginning. On March 12, 2020, President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation asking people to limit social interactions out of their sense of “national solidarity.” How French that is! We remember that “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (French for “liberty, equality, fraternity”) is the national motto of France, since the French Revolution.
When the proven inspirational motto did not work still, the President wasted no time on further talking, and on March 17 the state started to act. Everyone leaving home was required by law to present a signed attestation, hand-written or printed from the government website, stating they were on essential business (shopping for groceries or medicines). Businesses had been closed in most countries—but with a difference in France: The Army was mobilized; 100,000 police offices and gendarmes issued 4,095 fines on March 18 only. That worked like magic. The French then obeyed the lockdown rules.
The experiential learning of the whole big nation tells us that any law is effective only when enforced and when the folks become conscientious enough to self-impose isolation and mask-wearing. Money, motivation, and lockdown orders alone do not help.
The US was learning the other nations’ lessons slowly. Unfortunately, nationwide many governors tended to forget that we could be winners in the fight with coronavirus only if they remember the old saying, “Deeds, not words,” and prevent people hanging out, going to beaches, parties, and such, which happened both in summer and during the holiday season. The fines have never been enforced in the US, and all we heard were words, words, and more words.
Bottom line: we in the US did not handle the pandemic best. Why?
Our government did not learn the available experiential lessons, and as a result, its initial 2-trillion-dollar stimulus deal package helped but a little, while covid-19 kept spreading. And that was OUR money, my fellow citizens, OUR skin in the game. Hopefully our new 2021-government acts swiftly and handles the pandemic better!
Quick Guidelines for Handling the Pandemic Experientially
“Learning by doing” is the main principle of experiential learning, the most engaging technique of today. It so happens that during the last year the whole world was slowly learning HOW to handle the pandemic experientially, i.e., avoid:
- getting infected.
- being a patient at a hospital’s emergency bed.
- approaching one’s death sooner than originally planned.
Why learning experientially? The global community knew next to nothing about Covid-19, and was forced to learn on the go, as the pandemic unfolded. The cost of it was high—and it may only go up – if we, the people, do not share the lessons learned as widely as possible. So, let me share what I have got.
The Better and the Worse Experiential Learning Outcomes: Preview
There are certain things that people can learn only experientially, with better or worse outcomes.
Here’s the experiential learning’s better outcomes, which may bring possible pandemic-rooted long-term benefits:
- Mass education on personal hygiene, with proper hand-washing technique for starters
- Modified social norms stressing thinking of the others’ safety as one’s own (with wearing masks and gloves in public places, elbow bumps instead of handshakes, etc.)
- Flexible distant workhours improving work-life balance – a sign of the future that humanity was moving towards anyway.
Here’s the experiential learning’s worse outcomes’ top 4 of a longer list:
- Getting accustomed to grab more foods and hygiene supplies than necessary and hoard them at home, thus depriving those really in need.
- Modified minimal-interaction social norms might settle in for longer term—and traditionally “warm” nations may become “colder,” as over time the cultures evolve too.
- Working from home reduces valuable face-to-face colleagues’ connections; typically feeling a part of a bigger team increases productivity, performance, and creativity—and we can lose this for good.
- More things will still be learned on the go, especially – I suspect – in personal interactions of a bigger family stuck within the four walls. It is not yet clear if this is necessarily a bad thing, for it may have dual outcomes depending on situations.
In general, experiential learning, like drinking wine, is good in moderation. No overkilling. Learn to understand your own and other people’s lessons. The good question is: what can each of us control and put to work at unpredictable coronavirus times? You are free to try and apply the guidelines below for yourself.
Personal Guidelines from Proven Practices
5 Practices for Snapping Out of Serial Bad News
- For me, the best way to cheer up is to get out for a one-hour walk around our neighborhood. Thank goodness, it is so sparsely populated that for a whole hour I can meet only a couple of dogs walking their owners 😊. By the way, I noticed that the dogs, big and small, stopped barking (and spreading their bacteria around). Could it be their special way of observing the government’s guidance on social distancing? With the proverbial animal intuition, they might feel grateful they could still get out for a walk!
Taking the same routes every day, these are the shots I took on the way at different times. Look, the signs of New Jersey spring were everywhere: from a Japanese cherry with its first blooms, to budding magnolias, to forsythia, to daffodils. Lovely-lovely nature ups the spirit! The white silence of winter is beautiful in its own way – accept it, rejoice at it! It puts one in a better mood.
- At home, a people’s person, I love connecting with my friends, virtually of course, by Zooming. Staying in touch, chatting, hearing their news, being supportive and supported, has acquired a new meaning under the pandemic. This time proved to be the best part of my day—and I recommend it to you too.
- I enjoy cooking – and cooking a dinner for two (it is just my husband and myself in our NJ home lockdown) can be especially festive—with a favorite dish or apple strudel or having a meal in the dining room instead of a kitchen, or even using the best china typically saved for the big occasions. Let us make the best of it! It helps to snap out of the not-so-uplifting news about the pandemic and vaccine deficit!
- Not to forget: a home gym, whether mini or medium, is precious both for your health and spirit/distraction. Our gym is in the basement, and we added some nice gadgets, of which my absolute favorite is a small round trampoline for 30-minutes running (doctors say it is gentler on our spine than any treadmill). It may be boring to spend 50-60 minutes exercising – but not when you turn on music. I always dance to the first melody, looking at self in the wall mirror and imagining how – and with whom! – I will be dancing when out of lockdown. Thus, working out starts the day, and it became a part of my daily routine; a good beginning is half the battle!
- Most importantly, I practice distracting my mind from the serial bad news, generously supplied on the web, by engaging it to research HOW all women can do best under the pandemic circumstances and beyond. I learned to continually share my thinking – first at my book web site blogs and then at my new talk-show episode series (watch for example, Giving Voice to the Voiceless https://youtu.be/V7c0q3ZsZ8E). I started producing and hosting this talk-show in June 2020, inviting the prominent American women to the interviews – and The Bridge for Women Worldwide, today a 5,000-subscribers-strong YouTube channel, provides content “for women by women” – which proved to be popular, unsurprisingly, because we women express our genuine concerns openly, providing food-for thought, as contrary to explaining how to best apply mascara 😊. What I mean is, you can create a meaningful talk-show too! Make yourself visible contacting me at The Bridge – or start your own show – and bring more goodness to the world of women and the deserving men! The proof I have been perfecting my skills experientially, on the go, is the fact that my latest episodes have been posted with appropriate added thumbnails, and you can see it clicking on the picture below.
3 Reasons for Cautious Optimism
Optimism is a hard sell in our day and time, right? But let me just share with you a piece of my mind about three reasons for cautious optimism. Read on, it is all quite condensed.
- It is reassuring to learn about the White House using the Defense Production act to make at least 61 million at-home coronavirus tests available by summer: https://apple.news/AJcSWCzxgTJC9x6ybZaeQRw – plus in the near future they will ship 1 million vaccine doses to pharmacies. Good news, and we are in line, however long.
- Vaccines raise optimism for sure. At the same time, cold reality dawns, and governments, businesses, and increasingly the public are starting to accept that the coronavirus is not a temporary problem to deal with, but will instead lead to long-term changes enabling society to co-exist with Covid-19, as it does with flu. Bottom line: if Covid-19 is not eradicated fast enough worldwide, the pandemic may evolve into endemic! The Wall Street Journal put it best: https://apple.news/AQ87fwGWSTpOL5tmNRTIUNg
- Finally, there will be enough funding to deal with multiple pandemic-rooted problems: mass vaccination, kids going back to school, the personal checks going to the needy, and such. However, may be the new stimulus is too big? We do not want to burden our younger generation with super debt, here from our gratitude to the government’s generosity comes with skepticism and even fear – https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/02/06/why-joe-bidens-proposed-stimulus-is-too-big
So, let us take the shoots of optimism with a grain of salt. We are in this together, working and watching the world out of our windows. You may feel lonely, yet you are not alone. So, chin up, my friends! A little optimism never hurts. Together, we say No Pasaran to the coronavirus panic, fears, and that sinking feeling that it may last for a long while.
The world is learning to handle the pandemic experientially, on the go—and so shall we.
My fellow women, we need to recognize the pandemic for what it means for us. A steep climb for meaningful gender equality and virus-fear-free life lies ahead—so, stay healthy and strong please!
Life is going on—and, armed with the new knowledge for handling the pandemic experientially and draw on our new digital social skills, we shall overcome.
Thank you for your understanding and supporting my efforts for women’s equality. Follow me if you can, at:
Book website: https://fionacitkin.com/
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