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An Open Letter to Women During COVID-19

Dear Women,

How are you? For the sake of others, you might be expected to say you’re doing well. But how are you really doing? You don’t have to be okay. Because everyone is going through a lot during this pandemic, especially us women.

We’re told that the virus lacks any borders. That, more or less, you are as susceptible to COVID-19 as any other person. On TV screens, social media and news outlets a common image is painted: home signifies a place where we are all safe from an invisible threat. Whether you are a celebrity, governmental figure or an average citizen, home is your best bet at normalcy. As long as we stay at home, we’ll be okay.

We all know that’s utter nonsense.

Women are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, even if they are staying at home. Because, frankly, to live in a home within a family where one is respected is a privilege that too many of us lack. “Safe at home” does not resonate with many women worldwide.

That woman who relied on her education, school, and friends to get away from her abusive family is now back to her “home” to suffer for the unforeseeable future. Her suffering is amplified because no one can check up on her due to social distancing. The support system she built is undone within a matter of weeks.

That single mother who worked multiple jobs to put her children at a childcare facility is now schooling, feeding, and taking care of her children while trying to navigate an uncertain economic situation.

That woman who had created a balance between work and family is now forced to tend to all housework without time to herself because of gender inequality within her household.

That woman who already had a lack of access to resources at a refugee camp is now forced to accept the reality that she can do nothing to protect herself from the virus.

That woman who spent so many years fighting for her access to education in a developing country is now unable to finish her education, putting her future in jeopardy.

That woman is going through so much more than some of her male counterparts.

Although The Guardian and various sources state that COVID-19 poses a greater threat to men’s health than women, we are greatly disadvantaged in every other aspect of this pandemic. Gender inequality, gender-based violence and general discomfort for women are heightened to the worst it has been in recent history.

Now, keeping all of this in mind, you may feel the need to be at your best for everyone around you right now. You might scroll through social media just to see how productive others are being in quarantine and feel like you’re not doing enough. You might want to give in to the gender inequalities being forced upon you because you see no way out. You may be trying to pass your online class while trying to exist in a troubling household, all at the cost of your mental health.

Please, think and care about yourself often during these unprecedented times. You can stop trying to do so well in your classes if it comes at the cost of your health. You can do absolutely nothing one day in terms of work and not feel guilty. You just need to survive right now.

I recognize that not all women have the privilege to care about themselves during these times.

That’s why all of us who can take care of ourselves should reach out to fellow women and check up on them (while social distancing).

We can support domestic violence shelters, those working to provide support for the poor, frontline workers and organizations providing support to women. If you feel like you have no way out of a situation at home during the pandemic, reach out to people and find support organizations. There are always people willing to help, whatever situation you’re in.

Undoubtedly, hope is running low all over the world. But we’re fighting. And we’re doing our best. And that is perfectly enough. Thank you for being all that you are. Thank you for keeping the world running. Thank you to all women for your resilience and strength in the face of such adversity. However you spend your days in quarantine, just know: girl, you’ve got this!

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