National Women’s Day: Women’s Role in Combating Covid-19

By Murniati Abu Karim
Photo Ikhwan Hashim

Bangi, 25 August 2021 – The critical role played by women at the forefront of the global health crisis was celebrated on the 59th National Women’s Day.

The event was a collaboration effort between the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) and Tun Fatimah Hashim Women’s Leadership Centre (TFHWLC), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Themed “Women’s Battle to Eradicate Covid-19”, it gathered several notable personalities including NCWO President Prof. Emerita Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin, TFHWLC Director Prof. Dr. Dayang Anita Abdul Aziz, and former Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Health Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood.

The webinar was graced with a recorded speech by the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Almarhum Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj, who spoke about the need for Malaysian women to become more empowered in light of the pandemic.

Her Majesty extended her utmost appreciation for the dedication shown by the female workforce, particularly the frontliners to curb the Covid-19 infection.

In her launching speech, Prof. Emerita Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Sharifah Hapsah said that NCWO has always been proactive in providing contribution and support during the pandemic.

“NCWO and other non-governmental organisations expressed grave concern when the pandemic was declared and the Movement Control Order was implemented. We responded quickly by providing personal protective equipment and ventilators to a number of hospitals as well as other assistance.

“With the Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out, our strategy has shifted to recovery efforts by increasing vaccination rates among women and their families,” she said.

The half-day webinar focused on the pandemic’s impact on women’s and children’s health, women’s businesses and economies, and an increase in cybercrime targeting women and children during the pandemic.

Apart from combating Covid-19 as a large proportion of the health workforce, women continue to face household pressures, economic insecurity risks, and childcare challenges.

In one of the sessions, Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah mentioned that women make up approximately 70% of healthcare workers, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

She added that women from low-income countries and those working in agriculture are more susceptible to the Covid-19 infection.

Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah also revealed that one out of every 100 pregnant women are infected with the Covid-19. She stressed the importance of educating women, particularly pregnant women, about the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

Despite its simplicity, the webinar, which garnered over 200 participants echoed a profound message – women must continue to rise above the challenge to secure their footing and reach greater heights in society.