1) Shailaja Gupta, India
Shailaja Gupta is an Indian scientist who is advocating for the idea of using homemade masks in India. Although you may not recognize her name, Gupta works in the office of India’s principal scientific adviser and helps to write policies regarding the best use of technology. Gupta’s creative solution was needed by the people of India where there simply are not enough masks to go around and there is congestion. Not only did Gupta inspire the promotion of homemade masks, but she also worked to create manuals on how to make masks at home and had this manual translated into 22 official Indian languages. The problem is easy to spot – India needed more masks, but nobody had a solution. Gupta has said that “People living in slums, for example, need a local, cheap and simple solution and that is where the homemade mask can make a difference.” As of yesterday, the Indian government has reported that about 20 million masks have already been made by 78 000 self-help groups around India. It is women like Shailaja Gupta who provide inspiration through their creative solutions and will influence change.
If you are interested in making your own mask, follow this link to see an English translation of Gupta’s guide.
“People living in slums, for example, need a local, cheap and simple solution and that is where the homemade mask can make a difference.”
2) Jiang Jinjing, China
Jiang Jinjing is a woman who found a massively overlooked area of donations needed by healthcare workers – sanitary products. Jinjing said that “not many people thought of providing the right period products for the tens of thousands of female medical workers”. While China fast-tracked emergency supplies for healthcare workers, sanitary products were not deemed necessities. Jinjing became troubled with how female medical personnel were managing their periods after reading about how women were avoiding using the bathroom to preserve their protective equipment. To gain further insight into the issue, Jinjing posted to Weibo (a popular Chinese Twitter-like social media). After a couple of hours, many women sent messages expressing their frustrations – some had even been advised to take contraceptive pills to delay their menstrual cycles.
After seeing the need for menstrual products, Jinjing started a campaign called “Coronavirus Sister Support” – within 24 hours of opening the campaign collected 2 million yuan (the equivalent of 280 000 USD).
A poster for Coronavirus Sister Support, the campaign Jinjing started. From @梁钰stacey on Weibo
Jinjing is focusing on delivery “period panties” to frontline workers so that women do not have to frequently change their sanitary pads or tampons. As of February 28th, 481 377 pairs of period underwear, 303 939 pairs of disposable pants and 86 400 sanitary pads have been donated. Thanks to women like Jinjing, women’s needs are being acknowledged and solutions are being found.
3) Marlene Schiappa, France
While domestic violence has always been a large concern, the COVID-19 lockdown measures have elevated this risk. The social distancing and lockdown measures are important in protecting peoples’ health but, unfortunately, these living situations lend themselves to scenarios where domestic violence can proceed behind closed doors. This is an issue that France’s Secretary of Equality, Marlene Schiappa, does not take lightly. Since COVID-19, France has seen an approximately 30% increase in reports of domestic violence, and Schiappa knew that she had to take action. Schiappa thought of a creative way to manage the situation.
Her idea was to create a “code word” that people could use at pharmacies to quietly inform a trusted member of the community that they were experiencing domestic abuse, without being at risk of their abuser finding out. Calling to report domestic violence is already incredibly difficult, but being unable to find alone time during the lockdown escalates the difficulty of the situation – the “code word” system works to alleviate this. This system was carefully carried out in France and has shown to be a success. All pharmacies have been given careful instructions on how to handle these cases. Marlene Schiappa has demonstrated an admirable ability to identify risks that may not be entirely visible and create innovative solutions that help address domestic violence in circumstances that tend to exacerbate it.
At Artistri Sud we want to thank our community for everything that they are doing to face the new realities created by COVID-19. Whether you are at home with your family or working as a doctor on the frontlines, everyone has a role to play. Continue to follow us to learn more about how we are also adapting to these uncertain times.