A New World is Emerging, Powered by Female Leaders

Lessons from three women working relentlessly to create awareness, action and rewrite our stories for desired futures.

In these intense times, extraordinary women leaders shine. They may be in different fields, at different ages and from different backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: they don’t fear opposition and they are not settling down with what is. 

Here are three women working relentlessly to create awareness, action and rewrite our stories for desired futures:

  1. Naomi Klein

Who is she?

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and New York Times Bestselling author. She is Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, a Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center and is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. She is the leading intellectual-activist in the radical climate movement in the United States and Canada.

Why did she make it onto this list?

Naomi Klein has been studying the transformations that take place under the cover of disaster for the last two decades. She has been creating awareness with her books The Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything, No is Not Enough, The Battle For Paradise and with her activism for climate change and the underprivileged. For Coronavirus, she provides clear arguments on what to focus on during this pandemic, based on historical data and future projections. Her solutions for both individual empowerment and systemic redesigns focus on the people who are most vulnerable – for universal health care, universal child care and paid sick leave. 

Finally her video on CoronaVirus Capitalism and How To Beat It put her at the top of our list.

“Today is the day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic social and racial justice in the United States of America. It’s called the Green New Deal instead of rescuing the dirty industries of the last century. We should be boosting the clean ones that will lead us into safety in the coming century. If there is one thing history teaches us it’s that moments of shock are profoundly volatile. We either lose a whole lot of ground, get fleeced by elites and pay the price for decades or we win progressive victories that seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier. This is no time to lose our nerve. The future will be determined by whoever is willing to fight harder for the ideas they have lying around.”

She says: 

“We’re seeing in real-time that we are so much more interconnected to one another than our quite brutal economic system would have us believe.”

  1. Liang Yu Stacey

Who is she?

Liang Yu Stacey is a Chinese feminist activist who launched an online campaign called “reassurance for sisters fighting the virus” on Weibo, calling attention to women’s needs for sanitary products in Hubei Province.

Why did she make it onto this list?

More than half of the doctors and more than 90% of the nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle in Hubei are women, according to the Shanghai Women’s Federation. And as Chinese state media consistently pushes positive stories about the outbreak, women are increasingly speaking up about the treatment and portrayal of female medical workers. 

All of the female doctors and nurses worked under very difficult circumstances, wearing sweat-soaked clothes under their suits and risking their lives because there weren’t enough masks to go around for staff. Liang Yu Stacey had her hair cut short during her 30 days in the quarantine zone of the hospital, for personal hygiene and convenience. Chinese state media published a video showing a team of female medics in China having their heads shaved in preparation for going to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak Hubei province. Some women are seen crying. Reaction to the clip was swift—and negative. The news package was blasted for humiliating women and using them as tools for propaganda.

The discontent started with an online donation of period supplies for female medical workers in Hubei, which later unfolded into a movement to stop the period-shaming still prevalent in Chinese society. On February 6th, Weibo user Liang Yu Stacey posted the question, “do female medical workers in Hubei have enough period supplies?” Her post was soon bombarded with thousands of replies from nurses across Hubei’s hospitals who were desperate for hygiene products. But their request to donate period supplies had been rejected by a hospital’s male chief who said it was “non-urgent,” cementing the online community’s anger for the male-led state’s negligence of basic female needs. 

The campaign became a trending topic on Weibo, attracting over 53 million views and 51,000 comments. The initiative delivered over 368,273 sanitary towels to frontline medical workers and sparked a wider discussion, as women called for the public to destigmatise menstruation and recognise female workers’ needs under the hashtag #SeeTheFemaleWorkers (#看见女性劳动者).

She says: 

Looking back, Liang said her initiative did have its critics, with some arguing that medical supplies such as masks and protective suits were much more important for the front-line medics.   

“I can’t help with their primary needs, but I can look for ways to help with their secondary needs. Many a little makes a mickle. That’s how we’re fighting the war on the virus.” 

  1. Katie Porter

Katherine Moore Porter is an American law professor, attorney, and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California’s 45th congressional district. I came across her when I saw the viral video of her confronting Robert R. Redfield – the CDC Director – and got him to guarantee free Coronavirus tests for all Americans.

Why did she make it onto this list?

On March 12th, speaking to Redfield at Thursday’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Porter said that a coronavirus test for an uninsured patient would cost $1,331. Porter then hit Redfield with a series of questions about how the general public would be able to afford the tests and if the administration would move to allow free testing. She made a clear case with reasons why, including numbers, potential risks, showed a way out with a legal basis. She sent all of these preparations to Director Redfield’s office beforehand, leaving them no room for escape and holding him responsible for not being prepared or acting immediately. She even got assurance from a high-level Trump official that they’d actually do it. 

She didn’t give up or get angry. Her questioning was a brilliant example of resilience and determination. Her technique was very human-centric, at the same time very effective, rational and just. Finally, Redfield replied, “I think you’re an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes.”

“Excellent, everyone in America, hear that you are eligible to go get tested and have that covered regardless of insurance,” she said after Redfield’s confirmation. “Please, if you believe you have the illness, call first … do not let a lack of insurance worsen this crisis.” Here is a list of what not to store in a basement in order to survive any kind of calamities.

Video of the exchange tweeted out by Porter has been viewed more than 23 million times. Television producer Hart Hanson praised Porter on Twitter, asking, “How many lives did Katie Porter save today using a whiteboard, a bullshit detector, and an ability to retain focus?”

She says:

As much as I care about banking regulation and the problems that it causes, this is life or death. He came with the kind of answers as if I’d asked him about interest rates at the Federal Reserve or capital holding requirements. But I was literally asking him, Are you willing to save lives? And so I think I kind of pushed in a more forceful way. Because life is potentially at stake.”

Many female leaders and heroines don’t make it to headlines and viral videos. If you have a candidate for a female leader who creates positive impact during this pandemic, please share in the comments below.

Keep an eye on this post for more female leaders.


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