Wednesday September 22, 2021

‘Female leaders outperforming male counterparts during pandemic’

Compared to men, women are not only less prone to dying due to COVID-19 but female leaders and heads of state are also outperforming their male counterparts.

These women have been demonstrating decisiveness, resilience and humility during the pandemic, not only saving thousands of precious lives but also steering their economies out of crisis much earlier than the rest of the world.

These observations were made by female health experts during an international webinar titled ‘Women & COVID-19: Correlation & Causation’ and organised by Pakistan GI & Liver Diseases Society, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP) and Getz Pharma.

The online seminar was addressed by female health experts and scientists from Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United States and Pakistan.

Citing the examples of the prime ministers of New Zealand, Taiwan, Norway, Denmark and Finland, they said women leaders took timely and bold steps well before the novel coronavirus reached their countries, while men wasted precious time and waited until the disease wreaked havoc on their soils.

They said women-led governments proved to be more people-friendly as compared to male-dominant ones. They paid rich tributes to KK Shailaja, female health minister of Kerala in India, who was formerly a science teacher and received worldwide acclaim for her handling of the health emergency.

They also said that in her leadership, the Kerala state succeeded in flattening the curve and registering perhaps the lowest death rate in the world, besides a very high recovery rate.

Dr Sharmila Sachithanandan from Malaysia said that when the novel coronavirus started spreading in the world, male leaders downplayed its risks and wasted precious time in taking decisions.

However, she added, the few female leaders and heads of state took bold steps, spoke to everybody and, after listening to a variety of experts, took decisions that saved thousands of lives from New Zealand to Scandinavia and Asia.

In her presentation on ‘Women leadership and effective control of COVID-19’, she said Shailaja also played an important role, and in her leadership, Kerala witnessed very few cases as compared to the rest of the country, while very few people died due to COVID-19, which was being praised all over the world.

“The exemplary leadership qualities shown by some female heads of state and the health minister tell that we need more women in leadership roles in the world.”

Dr Lubna Kamani, who works for both Liaquat National Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital, said that as physicians, nurses and support staff, women are playing an important role in taking care of COVID-19 patients in the world, including Pakistan where over 80 to 90 per cent of the doctors and nurses are women.

MMIDSP President Dr Bushra Jamil said men are more likely to practise unhealthy habits, including washing their hands less frequently, as compared to women. She said men smoke more as compared to women, while their genetic composition and physiological difference make women less prone to dying due to COVID-19.

Dr Majidah Abdulfattah Bukhari from Saudi Arabia spoke on ‘Risk of COVID-19 in pregnancy’, pointing out that pregnant women are more at risk of contracting respiratory viruses and illnesses. She said COVID-19 is affecting pregnant women in a similar manner as other respiratory viruses.