Why The COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be Shared

Why The COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be Shared

At long last, my state of Missouri feels some relief as all immunization tiers are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and more local vaccination appointments become available. No one thought vaccine rollout would be easy. Nor did Americans think it would be this hard. We watched Texans struggle when a February storm disrupted food, water, heat, and shipments of vials. I became an online vaccine hunter for friends and family, navigating a system that had city-dwellers traveling for hours, desperate to find the vaccine.

Such hardships reminded me of families in low-income countries who regularly lack healthy food, clean water, and access to health resources. I’ve visited rural Ugandan communities where mothers walk for miles carrying infants for vaccines. At least when St. Louisans drove to Potosi, they went in cars.

We’re now entering a new pandemic phase with greater freedom and less worry. Yet we should remember the desperation we felt when we scrambled for shots. It’s likely that vulnerable people in low-income countries will feel it for years to come.

The U.K.’s Guardian reported that most impoverished nations will not achieve mass COVID-19 immunization until at least 2024. Some may never get there. That’s what happens when high-income countries turn a blind eye to disease once the threat has receded for them.

Waiting for Protection

Wealthy countries have secured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate their entire populations several times over. What do citizens of smaller countries think about being left behind as affluent nations hoard immunization doses and technology?

Portia Nartey, a Washington University student from Ghana, says her family is aware Ghana doesn’t have the means to create a vaccine. They are resigned to waiting. Yet they have faith that the U.S. will help. Portia shared, “Some think that rich countries will not care about developing countries until they have vaccinated all their citizens. As a result, we are praying for them to quickly vaccinate their people and once that is done, we know they will send some vaccines to developing countries like Ghana.”

Rachel (left) and Cindy (second from right) with their mothers during a past Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago

My cousin Rachel Stampfli lives in the Caribbean where my father grew up, Trinidad & Tobago. Rachel admitted there is a general feeling of having lower status. But Trinidadians worry that larger countries with uncontained spread, like the U.S., could easily reinfect the world through international travel, so they will wait their turn. In other words, she’s eager for me to come visit, but not until she knows I won’t bring COVID-19 to her island.

COVAX Can Help

There is a way to combat global vaccine inequity. COVAX, formally known as the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, is an initiative dedicated to equitable vaccine access. It accelerates the development, manufacture, and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world with a goal to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of 2021. Without donor nation participation in COVAX, the virus will continue to mutate in unprotected communities and extend the life of the pandemic.

The very first COVAX vaccines shipped out on February 24 happened to go to Portia’s home country of Ghana to protect health workers and high-risk individuals. So far, COVAX has delivered over 38 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to over 100 countries.

Portia Nartey in front of the Washington University buildings

Unfortunately, Rachel found out on March 18 that Trinidad & Tobago’s COVAX delivery was delayed. Her reaction looked exactly like Facebook posts from my fellow local moms when she wrote, “We have no idea when we will get it. It sucks. We need to get back to some semblance of normal and the kids need to be back in school.” The good news is that by March 30 they received a small shipment of 33,600 of vaccines for the 1.2 million citizens and over 18,000 refugees on the islands. It’s a start.

Action from Citizens

Even when it’s safe for those of us living in wealthy nations to gather again, let’s not forget how frustrated we felt. Remember what life was like when travel, school, hugs, and all sorts of activities were risky. We can turn negative memories into positive action in solidarity with people still waiting.

Americans can contact President Biden with this petition from the ONE Campaign to urge him to support donating excess American COVID-19 doses to COVAX. Canadians can do the same for their country. Our leaders should also do all they can to simplify intellectual property rights and remove measures that restrict or slow vaccine exports.

Meanwhile, Cousin Rachel is settled in for what she calls the Great Wait. She told me, “Until then Trinidad & Tobago’s borders remain closed, only receiving nationals locked out since March [2020]. We’ll just continue to mask-up and absorb more alcohol through our hands than from our glasses.”

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin took her first advocacy action in 2001 with a hunger event at her church. Years later, after resigning from her position as an automotive engineer to raise her newborn daughter, she searched for a way she could better the world from home while caring for infants. She returned to advocacy and is now a dedicated volunteer activist with RESULTS, Shot@Life, ONE, and Bread for the World. Levin involves her young children in her advocacy activities, including face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, letter-writing, and classroom advocacy projects. She shares what she has learned about advocacy through her Anti-Poverty Mom blog and training other activists with RESULTS. Her op-eds and letters-to-the-editor have appeared in Chicago area newspapers as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, the New York Times and the international Financial Times. Levin has served on the Board of Directors for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund and on staff with RESULTS Educational Fund as a fundraising coach for grassroots volunteers.

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Ma’Khia Bryant, Duante Wright, George Floyd

Ma’Khia Bryant, Duante Wright, George Floyd

Happy, angry, afraid.

As we rejoiced in the “Guilty on all charges” verdict of Derek Chauvin, 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant had just been murdered by a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio. The use of a taser would have been effective in stopping Ma’Khia. It would have given the police officers the opportunity to form a clearer picture of what was going on.

Why is it that a trained police officer’s first reaction to a scene involving people of color is to shoot first and ask questions later?  Violence is the first thing that seems to come to their minds.  How many more lives must we lose to the people who have sworn to protect and serve us? Or have those police officers only sworn to protect and serve people who look like them?

I am not saying that all cops are bad, but more and more I am starting to think about their motives.  In April of this year, 20-year-old Duante Wright was murdered by a female police officer outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, after being stopped for possible expired tags. The police officer, Kim Porter of the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Minnesota, reported that she thought she had her taser out. How can a 26-year veteran of the police make such a costly mistake? 

As I sit here writing this, tears flowing, I am struggling with being happy, angry, and afraid.

Happy, because even though George Floyd’s life can never be restored, the conviction of his murderer can bring some peace to his soul and his family. I want to believe that this is a positive sign that police officers will now be held accountable for their actions when they discharge their weapons.

Angry because Black lives are still being taken at the hands of police officers. 

Afraid that we will lose more Black lives before something is truly set in place to stop these murders

How is this not a crisis? Why are we not training officers to handle situations better, without defaulting to violence? Why are Black people like Ma’Khia Bryant and Duante Wright met with bullets? If the roles were reversed – if Black police officers were routinely shooting and killing white civilians – would society not have already come up with better alternatives?

Happy, Angry, Afraid.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Dr. Denetria James-Brooks.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Nine Minutes And Twenty-Nine Seconds

Nine Minutes And Twenty-Nine Seconds

In May of 2020, the world was forced to slow down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  After Memorial Day, people from around the world watched as George Floyd took his last breath while former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.  For nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, we watched a man’s soul leave his body.  We watched as his life was taken.  We listened to him call for his Momma.  People of all skin colors – from black, brown, gold, and white; from suburban moms to urban fathers; from politicians to clergy – took to the streets to protest this injustice which was not new to the Black community.

Two days ago, as I sat in my car looking at an alert that the verdict would be announced, I went through a series of emotions.  I felt angry, sad, and disappointed before even knowing the outcome.  Had the justice system failed us again?  I felt physically ill not knowing if this man who so casually knelt on another human’s neck with his hands in his pockets would be held accountable, or if he would be allowed to go home and sleep in his own bed while George Floyd sleeps in his eternal rest.  Would accountability finally occur in one of these cases?

Guilty.

Guilty.

Guilty. 

A jury of Derek Chauvin’s peers took a little over ten hours to decide what we visually knew.  Until the last of the verdicts was read, I did not realize I had been holding my breath. I exhaled for what seemed like the first time, yet there was no relief.  Just minutes before the verdict was read, a fifteen-year-old Black girl in Ohio was gunned down by an officer. 

The cycle continues.

black lives matter

Accountability in one case does not provide accountability in others.  Sandra Bland’s family still wonders what transpired in her cell.  Tamir Rice is frozen in time as a twelve-year-old child while his killer walks free.  Officers who commit crimes against Black and brown people can often jump from city to city and state to state to find jobs, and their bad deeds are covered by unions who believe that Blue Lives Matter and they deserve more protection than the average American.

A surgeon, nurse, or any other health professional who voluntarily takes a life is held accountable.  I do not fear seeing my doctor, seeing a nurse, but I fear seeing blue lights in my rear view mirror.  I fear letting my six-foot-tall autistic son walk fifty feet to our mailbox.  My son has been deemed a threat since he was born because of the color of his skin. I fear letting him just walk around in our front or back yard and having an overzealous neighbor call the police on the brown person lurking in his own yard.

In nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, my life could be over.  Yesterday’s verdict does not bring George Floyd back.  Chauvin’s attorney attempted to use the big Black guy defense.  But the only thing we saw was a Black man being ripped from his family, his life placed under a microscope for the world to judge. 

george floyd momma

The verdict has been read, but he is still gone.  I did not know Mr. Floyd, but in his cry for his Momma, I could hear my son’s voice and I could not reach him.  One person was held accountable, but the whole system needs to go on trial now to fix what is broken.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been over 10 years since World Moms Network published its first post. We’re still all here in the trenches. Planning new things for 2021. Watch this space over the next few months. We are reorganizing and getting our site touched up!

In the meantime, I’d like to share a photo of me and one of my favorite women that I met from World Moms Network (when we were just World Moms Blog!), Purnima Ramakrishnan in India for International Women’s Day. What a ride we have had over the years, and the future is bright! That’s us at the BlogHer conference in Chicago in 2015 when Purnima was there advocating for global vaccines for children in the developing world. I look forward to doing more good with you and the rest of my most favorite women to make the world a better place, here, in this space!

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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The Evolution of r(E)volutionary Woman Podcast

The Evolution of r(E)volutionary Woman Podcast

So it started as a conversation with my husband in the car.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve written poems, lyrics and, for many years, contributed various articles to different publications. I started my blog, The Pinay Perspective, ten years ago, as a way to connect with other Filipinas and Filipina-Americans after moving from NYC to the suburbs of NY and giving birth to my daughter. I didn’t know what to expect from that venture, but I hoped to find like-minded Moms.

Writing on my blog was not just a way to connect with other women and Moms about motherhood and issues that were important to me; my husband challenged me to write 100 posts in 100 days. If I succeeded, then he would take me out to a fancy dinner…and yes, I did it. I wrote a post about anything that interested me, whether it was about family game night or about girls in Egypt doing Parkour.

The blog led me to attend BlogHer in NY, Social Good Summit, and Moms+Social Good. As a new blogger, I didn’t know anyone, but I put myself out there and met Elizabeth Atalay from World Moms Blog. I wanted to be able to write for an organization that reached out to women from everywhere, and WMB was it. I wasn’t taken in as a contributor right away since they already had so many writers from the US, but I kept blogging away and sending links to Elizabeth about international issues, hoping that one day, they would have the room for me. After sending an article about a group of English women donating menstrual products to Syrian women affected by conflict, that opened the door for me to become a contributor for WMB. 

It would be an ordinary car ride with my husband that would spur me to create something new, to deal with my anxiety and fear about this pandemic. My husband and I are huge podcast listeners, and when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t do too much of anything, so we would go for a drive and listen to podcasts. My favorites were Ghost Family, What’s Her Name podcast, Fresh Air and Lore. Each one was different, but I was struck by how every storyteller had a great way of conveying their message to the listener. It was during one of our car rides when I broached the subject of creating my own podcast. My husband was enthusiastic but then asked what would it be about and what would I call it? 

Initially, I told my husband that I wanted it to be about women. Now I know that there are a great number of podcasts about women, as well as those hosted by women, but I wanted it to be about women who are doing amazing work in their community. I’ve been a journalist for years, and while I love the way Terry Gross of Fresh Air does her interviews, I didn’t want my podcast to be an interview. I wanted to create space for conversation, to highlight women who were evolving with the times and doing revolutionary work in their community, despite controversy or lack of acknowledgment. After a few minutes, I came up with r(E)volutionary Woman. What is the significance of the “E” in parenthesis? It’s to signify that women have been evolving since the beginning of time and continue to do so, as well as revolutionizing the works they do for their community. Thus was born https://revwoman.com 

As of this moment, I have published twelve episodes of women from different parts of the world and from different time zones. At last count, I have guests that will take me into the summer. We talk about their lives, their passions, their works, and their families. While we may not all have the same communities, language, and passions, we are connected as women. This podcast has given me a way to connect with women on a personal level, which I hadn’t done before. You can say that the pandemic gave me the opportunity to see how else I can connect with other women while the world was going through unimaginable loss and sadness. For me, this new venture has made it possible for me to explore a deeper way to connect with humanity. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

My advice for someone who would like to create their own podcast or anything creative? Remember that you can’t do it by yourself. Your dreams become a reality with the connection and support of those who believe in you. The connections you make are as much a part of your creative journey as you are. 

To hear the stories of the amazing women Tes has spoken with check out r(E)evolutionary Woman. You will be inspired!

This is an original post written for World Moms Network

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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Increase of Domestic Violence Globally during COVID-19

Increase of Domestic Violence Globally during COVID-19

While countries around the world are dealing with different stages of lockdowns and reopenings, the state of women’s safety has been put off to the side.

The focus on COVID-19 has been ever-present and with good reason. The number of cases continue to rise around the world and at the same time, there’s also a rise in domestic violence cases. China, Spain and Italy are just some of the countries seeing increased cases of “intimate terrorism” due to lockdowns.

Lele, from China, has suffered multiple abuses from her husband including one such incident where he beat her with their child’s high chair. The beating was so severe that two of the metal legs snapped off and left her with bruises all over her legs. She called the police and the abuse was documented, but no further action was taken. She then tried to get a divorce but the lockdown during the pandemic made it more difficult to get the paperwork done, so she was forced to remain in the same home as her abuser. Lele’s story of being abandoned by a system that she thought she could rely on is not uncommon. According to Feng Yuan, a co-founder of a Chinese advocacy group called Equality, another woman in China who called an emergency line for help was told by the operator that the police were too outstretched to help her but added, ”We can come to your place after the crisis”. 

In Spain, a woman named Ana has also been continuously physically abused by her partner, extending to surveillance of her every move. Surveillance has become extreme for Ana as it has resulted in breaking down the bathroom door, eliminating any semblance of privacy. In spite of the case being reported, not much has been done. Her constant fear of being victimized has gone unnoticed, leading to more violence. 

Domestic violence or “intimate terrorism”, a term used by experts, has only increased with the continued lockdown due to the pandemic. When Italy shut down in March as a result of the Coronavirus, the number of domestic abuse cases on women increased by 30%, according to a study done by UN Women. Shelters were unavailable due to fear of being exposed to the virus. It would take another month before the Italian government would requisition some hotels to become temporary housing for women who had to escape their abusers.

Prior to the pandemic, resources such as restraining orders and complaints to emergency lines were used by victims of domestic violence, but has since decreased or completely disappeared due to fear of retaliation by their abusers. What makes it more challenging is that since the outbreak of COVID-19, women haven’t been able to reach out to agencies that can help them due to imposed restrictions of movement. According to Maria Angeles Carmona, president of the government agency dealing with domestic violence in Spain, the number of women who contacted support services via email or social media had increased by 700% during the first two weeks in April. Since then, the numbers sharply decreased partly as a result of the imposed lockdown, but more so due to lack of a support system which increased their isolation. Per Carmona, “Around 30% of  police complaints are about breaking restraining orders, but under the lockdown no one is allowed to leave their home”. 

It’s not just the delayed actions of government agencies that are affecting women’s safety, but the lack of adequate services that could help women escape from their abusers, giving them a way to start over. One organization in Spain that is helping women to break free of their abusers is Fundacion Ana Bella, founded by Ana Bella, a domestic abuse survivor. One of the ways her organization supports women in abusive relationships is through her Amiga Program which offers peer to peer support. Women who have escaped and reconstructed their lives from abuse connect with women who are struggling to get away from their situation. The program advocates  “breaking away”  rather than remaining with their abuser. By doing so, Ana believes that the stronger women become, the easier it is for them to move on and build a life away from their abusers. 

In addition to services that need to be increased, the dissemination of these services has to be monitored and adjusted to the needs of these women whose lives have been upended as a result of the pandemic. The women affected by these atrocious acts of violence and inadequate support by their government creates a perfect storm of chaos that abusers use to control their victims.

While I have not been subject to physical abuse, I have been a victim of mental and emotional abuse by an old boyfriend. This man grew up in a violent household, but I would not discover how he dealt with his emotions until I saw it for myself one day. We were visiting his parents’ home and sometime during the visit, his father said something that set my boyfriend off and resulted in him shouting violent threats towards his father. Seeing this made me afraid of him, but I shrugged it off, thinking it was just his frustration towards his father, but it wasn’t. Since that violent outburst, I started seeing signs of passive-aggressive behaviors toward me, making me think that I was doing something wrong. It would take another year of being manipulated by him to make me realize that he was a destructive person and that I had to leave him.

My abuse was not violent, but the constant emotional and mental manipulation was hard to shake off. I constantly questioned myself and thought that his pleas of staying with him was because he cared about me, but that was how he controlled me. How did I get out of that relationship? It would take me finding out that he was married while he was with me that gave me the strength to leave him. My family never knew that he was married and I never told them because of the shame I felt for not knowing until I realized I needed to leave him. 

Unlike so many women who are currently going through an abusive relationship, I was able to leave my abuser, but so many are not as lucky. The support system they need to get out of the situation is far from adequate and that has to be resolved, especially during the pandemic. The longer it takes for government agencies to create lasting solutions, such as legal and psychological aid, more women will be abused or killed by their partners. Here’s hoping that government agencies in charge of implementing policies to keep women safe in countries that are most at risk do so before more women lose their lives unnecessarily.

This is an original post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Network. https://revwoman.com

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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