Relying on women to overcome Covid-19

Devie Rahmawati Lecturer in University of Indonesia’s Vocational Program

IO – The contemporary Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of the world. Fear, panic, and anxiety have become an inseparable part of human days in all parts since the beginning of 2020. The number of victims continues to grow, as if – a dark cloud that hangs over many countries, including Indonesia. However, amid human efforts down the long corridor of the corona outbreak, we see many candles of life that shine from the helping hands of other human beings, especially from the social movements of women. 

From volunteers as health workers to the movement of the production of hand sanitizer solutions, sewing PPE, masks, to sharing an ear with anxious people, there we will find women who with hard work, sincere work have given time for others, for the wide community. 

The United Nations, through the State of the World Volunteerism Report 2018, launched research results that showed that social action subjects were out of balance, because it turned out that more women volunteered (57%) than men (43%). Research shows that a community will have the ability to survive and adapt if there are social volunteer fighters at the fore. 

These volunteers are the source of community resilience in difficult times such as natural disasters, climate change catastrophes, and of course epidemic attacks. And it is women who are most often present to donate their time as volunteers. 

This power was expressed by one of our female heroes, Kartini, more than 100 years ago. Kartini said: “Human intelligence does not mean everything. There must also be another, higher intelligence, which is closely related to other people in the direction they are aiming. “ 

Kartini’s philosophy illustrates the face of women who are energetic, empathetic and effective in helping society, even in studies in America (2010), it is evident that women contribute more dollars than men. And women also dedicate 1 billion more hours to volunteering than men, namely 4.7 billion: 3.4 billion (Nathan, 2013). 

But such active participation is not often widely exposed, given that women carry out more social action informally and in small communities, not through formal and established channels of organization, as most men do. 

Commemoration of Kartini’s birthday as an inspiration and momentum to continue to fight for gender equality is an action that remains relevant in this digital era. Data for 2017 shows that men are 12 percent higher in internet use than women. And there are 200 million women left behind in terms of cell phone ownership compared to men. 

Yet according to Brookings Institute data in America, the use of digital devices has increased to 517 from 545 jobs since 2002. This gap condition will, of course, be dangerous for social security let alone the nation. When many women have a great social sense but lag in terms of digital skills, the country will certainly lose its potential to be economically independent. 

Therefore, on every April 21 of each year, let us together reaffirm our alignments to increase empowerment for women, if we truly love Indonesia. “Is there anything more despicable than being dependent on others?” (Kartini, 1879 – 1904).