With most of the gathering restrictions lifted and the mask mandate removed in the U.S. for the fully vaccinated, we might think that COVID-19 is behind us and we are soon approaching a new normal – the post-pandemic world. But this poses two serious questions. First, can we consider a pandemic over just because it is improving in high-income countries? Second, do we really want to go back to normal without heeding the intense disparities and challenges that have been magnified during the pandemic and continue making the same mistakes?
We live in a globalized society. Our interdependentness led to the exponential spread of the virus. But when it came to containing it, we think that the countries can do this in isolation of their national borders. However, the virus does not limit itself to these borders and rules we have created. Now that we are over a year into the pandemic, the same rules of national borders are being used by the high-income countries to purchase more than half of the global doses of the vaccine, an example of vaccine nationalism. Furthermore, we are not just interconnected with different countries but also with our planet. We are under the misconception that human beings are supreme creatures. The pandemic came both as a shock and denial to many who do not realize that we are a part of an intricate ecosystem.
Amidst the many disparities and burdens exposed by the pandemic, forced child marriage is one that for many of us living in the United States, it is a theoretical concept, far from the realities of the society we live in. In addition to the economic challenges during this time, its intersection with the closing of schools, reproductive health services, financial tensions and poverty, and gender-based violence has led to a sharp increase in forced child marriage, particularly for young girls. According to UNICEF, up to 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides over the next 10 years due to the pandemic. It is high time that girls need to stop being perceived as a financial burden in any economic challenge and rather be empowered to be financially independent. One of the most important ways to do this is to increase their access to education. This includes challenging stereotypes about girl education in the communities, investing in health and sanitation infrastructure in schools, and repeated advocacy for closing gender gaps.
Till we don’t critically think about the challenges we have faced and the mistakes we have made during COVID-19, not only will we be unable to end the pandemic nor will we be able to live in a normal that is governed by equity, justice, sustainability, and global humanity.
Posted By Sarina Maini
Posted Jun 24th, 2021