Pandemic Changemakers: How 7 Women Are Lifting Up Their Communities

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Life is hard for everyone during a pandemic. But in a global crisis, it is women who carry extra burdens, says Raquel Lagunas, director of the gender team at the United Nations Development Programme. “Because of their reproductive role in society, they are ones taking care of the kids, the house, the food, the survival of families.”

Yet women are also finding time to play a vital role in helping others cope.

Over the span of three weeks in September and October, NPR photographed and interviewed women around the world. They shared their challenges and fears — and how they are overcoming them and helping others as well.

The 7 women profiled below are:

Iceland’s director of health Dr. Alma D. Möller. She used to be lowered on a wire out of rescue helicopters. Now she runs her country’s COVID response — and they’re doing well.

– Rap music mogul (and single mom) Deng Ge, in Wuhan, China. She formed the “Angel Squad” — women volunteers who got donations to local hospitals.

– Community health worker Ranjana Dwivedi, who lives in an Indian village. Even falling into a river won’t keep her from her door-to-door info sessions.

– Teacher Angel Marie Miles in suburban Maryland. She worries about students in Washington, D.C., learning at home — some are crammed into closets to block out noise — and shares daily affirmations like “I am enough.”

– Nigerian activist Osas Egbon in Palermo, Italy. The pandemic has brought more urgency to her volunteer work helping women who’ve been sex trafficked.

– Congresswoman Geraldine Roman is the first openly trans legislator in the Philippines. “In the middle of the pandemic, you feel that nothing is in your control,” she says. Her enterprising gardening program is one solution.

– Mexican artist Eva Vale. She’s set up “bartender hours” on her Instagram — time for interested folks to talk about whatever they’d like.

Read their stories, check out our special report on 19 women facing the coronavirus crisis — then find out how to nominate a woman to be profiled at the bottom of the story.

The Chief Of Health Stays Calm In A Storm

It was one of those September days in Reykjavik when you just don’t know. The sky was mostly gray, and yet the sun shone through. It might start to rain or clear up completely. But it made for a nice view from Dr. Alma D. Möller’s glass-encased office. Not that she had time to enjoy it.

At 3 p.m., she breezed into her office, smiling, in a dark pinstriped suit. She looked like a bank executive, but in fact is Iceland’s director of health. Earlier in her career, she was the first female doctor aboard search and rescue helicopters. She’d be lowered from the copter by a wire. That didn’t as much prepare her for her current job, she said, as show the world she’s not afraid of challenges and hard work.

And the past few…

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