Women of Faith in COVID-19 Response: A View from the Frontlines

By: Martine Dushime

August 4, 2020

Responding to: Young Women of Faith Leading COVID-19 Response

Women of Faith in COVID-19 Response: A View from the Frontlines

Young women of faith are playing an important role during this COVID-19 crisis. In the field of medicine, they are on the frontlines and battling to contain the spread of the virus, while in other fields they are tirelessly working to support their families and communities during these difficult and uncertain times. What young women of faith have in common is that they have hope in the future and that they serve their communities using their talents and expertise, especially during this pandemic.

As a medical student, I am helping to contain COVID-19 in my community by encouraging people to be aware of the pandemic situation, reminding them of the preventive measures, and fighting against fake news through sharing the scientific evidence already available on coronavirus.

As a young woman of faith, I also bring hope to the desperate by relying on the resources of faith. As this pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of many, I usually comfort people in my community by telling them to read reliable news about COVID-19, instead of being immersed in the frightening fake news that is spreading around. I also encourage my community to practice self-care by trying new hobbies, as self-care is important to reduce the stress resulting from this pandemic situation. 

I consider myself lucky to be part of a church which acted to fight COVID-19 by applying protective measures during services. Stations where people can wash hands have been put in place, and social distancing during services is enforced. Also, church leaders constantly remind the congregation to take care of themselves. I salute these efforts and am happy with how faith and science are being used to fight against the pandemic. For example, one of my favorite sermons mentions that “Doctors are 100% on the side of God. What they do while healing is to boost the inner property of the body of auto-healing made by God.”

How are women of faith showing strength and resilience in the face of crisis?

They are showing strength and resilience by not giving up and by thinking of what they can do to try to live with “this new normal life.” They do not let themselves be taken down by the unfortunate circumstances of the moment but do their best to be instruments of hope.

​How can female faith leaders address difficult issues related to the pandemic, including grief and stigma?

They can address difficult issues by avoiding being sources of these stigma. This can be done by being compassionate and following the golden rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Also, they need to strengthen those around them so that after having been empowered themselves, they can strengthen others.

How can female leadership of faith communities and organizations be sustained after the COVID-19 pandemic?

This pandemic situation has resulted in new ways to approach life. As faith communities and organizations are aware that things will not be the same after the pandemic, what is important is that they be flexible and adapt as expressed in this quote: “I cannot change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Some organizations have started adjusting. For example, some are reaching out to domestic violence victims through social media because they cannot talk to them physically. 

Another important piece to this is acknowledging the role faith organizations played during the COVID-19 crisis. This acknowledgement will motivate faith communities and organizations to work harder for the betterment of society. Faith organizations need also to learn from successes and failures experienced during this crisis to prepare for the future. In fact, this pandemic has not just resulted in the infection of more people by the virus, it has also led to other social and economic issues such as an increase in gender-based violence, gender inequalities, mental health problems, and much more. So, faith organizations need to re-adjust their activities to meet these new challenges.

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