As the world collectively battles with the ongoing COVID-19 virus pandemic, focus turns to the people working to curtail the outbreak. And the World Health Organisation (WHO) has spotlighted the women — from the doctors and nurses to the women at home — on the frontline of the coronavirus fight.
In a series of videos posted to social media, WHO interviewed female members of its team on the importance women play during epidemics.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at WHO, says the virus outbreak was an opportunity to spotlight "the role of women at home that often goes unrecognised, unappreciated and not reimbursed."
The scientist reminded viewers that "the majority of healthcare professionals around the world are women," and warned that the majority of women would be "disproportionately called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty."
Dr Swaminathan also highlighted women's role as "care-givers at home" that also goes without praise. "It’s women who are carrying this burden," she adds.
WHO's Director of Infectious Hazard Management Dr Sylvie Briand works to produce technical guides that will enable countries to respond to the current epidemic. In a separate video, she also notes that women are vital caregivers during this time of uncertainty. "Women are most affected during epidemic because they are the ones that take care of the sick. Either at home or in hospitals," she says.
According to a 2018 report by the Royal College of Nursing, "89.3% of all registrants are female and 10.7% are male." Other statistics provided by NHS in 2019 reveal that "77% of the NHS workforce are women however just 46% of very senior manager roles in the NHS are held by women."
The WHO's social media posts have been shared and liked by more than 2,000 people. However, some have accused the organisation of "virtue signalling." One Twitter user responded: "That is true, but let's not minimize the billions of men going out to work to make money so their wives can stay home and safe with the children. Everyone matters in this, let's not cause a divide!"
The WHO, which acts "to direct international health within the United Nations' system and to lead partners in global health responses," declared the COVID-19 outbreak a "pandemic" earlier this week.
Back on March 3, Johnson announced his government's initial action plan for battling the spread of COVID-19. Following an emergency Cobra meeting on March 12, Johnson introduced new advice in regards to the "delay phase." You can read more about that here.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.