“After thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy… I realised that I was generalising in the sense that my conclusions were only based on my understanding from western media and considering only a particular part of society. I therefore decided to reflect on how the pyramid differs around the world. I had expected cultural differences and levels of development to greatly impact the pyramid, however, I could only conclude that it was more or less similar in every part of the world. COVID was truly a global issue. I therefore realised that, while looking at specific cultures may not be possible due to the global nature of Covid, I could instead look at different groups in society that faced the most injustice. I was greatly moved by the role that women play in this pandemic and was reminded of the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter / we can do it’ image.

I composed four journal entries, representing four different women in society who I believe have faced great injustice, and were victims of inequality. The first figure is a domestic worker, the second is a mother, the third is a victim of domestic abuse and the last woman is a front-line health worker. I read extensively on the backgrounds of each of these women and their struggles during COVID to try and truly embody their struggle. I then wanted to prove that these individual struggles of just four individuals had global implications, and thus tied certain ideas to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which I believe represent collective global goals for the whole of humanity.

While I personally connected most to women and the injustice they faced, children, elderly, people of colour and other disadvantaged groups of society face the same inequalities. However, I believe that this new focus on those who cannot access their basic needs through movements such as Black Lives Matter for example, create a new sense of global community that might actually help us achieve our global goals.”

 

Yara Share

Sustainable Development

Undergraduate

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Domestic Worker

May 4th 2020

It is 12:30 AM and I just finished today’s work. I woke up at half past five because I knew that once the kids woke up, I would not have the time to do the laundry. Ever since they started doing school from home, I have to constantly look after them since their parents are working here as well, and are constantly busy. After finishing the laundry, I quickly had breakfast before the family woke up because I do not feel comfortable eating knowing that my actions are constantly being watched by ma’am. Ever since they started working and studying at home, it feels like I do not have a moment to myself. The workload is much heavier now that they are always using all the rooms in the house. I have to be much more careful with how I clean as well, since I have to disinfect several parts of the house now. Ironically, although I am doing much more work now, I am being paid less. I don’t know how I will be able to send enough money to my family back home now. I previously made just enough to make sure that they had enough for food and to pay rent. I was supposed to visit them this summer before I renewed my contract, but now that borders are closed, that will not be possible. I feel alone enough as is, since I have not been out in three weeks because my employers are afraid that I will contract COVID19 and infect them. Also, I do not know if my employers will be willing to renew my contract after this summer, because they might not afford it. The uncertainty is awful.

Mother

April 2nd 2020

I feel like I am about to lose my mind. I just put the kids to sleep and it took about an hour to get them to be quiet and sleep. I made sure to wake up at 6:00 so I had time to have coffee and shower before I woke the boys up. Their first school lesson today was at 8:30 so I woke them up at 7:00 so they had time to eat breakfast and get ready for class. While they attended their classes, I cooked lunch for the family, cleaned and tidied up the house. After the kids finished school and had their lunch, it was time for homework. Because they are both so young, Jacob being nine and David being five, they have been having trouble understanding the material as well as they should through Zoom calls even though I have seen their teachers come up with very innovative ways of teaching. I therefore read the information they needed for their homework so I could help them do it. I felt bad for them because by the time they were done with it, it was an hour before bedtime already! I let them play for an hour, and then we all sat down for dinner. That was the first time I had seen my husband all day because he has been on video meetings for work all day, except for when he went and got groceries before dinner. While I understand the pressure to maintain a good standard at work because of all the salary cuts and because I was let go of my job a week ago by my company which was already going under even before the economic impacts of lockdown, I feel that the situation is somewhat unfair. It feels like I am raising Jacob and David all on my own and they barely get to see their father anymore. After dinner, I gave the boys a hurried shower before tucking them into bed. This is the first time I’ve been alone all day.

Victim of Domestic Abuse

May 14th 2020

I have to get rid of this paper as soon as I write everything down. I have nobody to talk to as my husband is constantly listening in on my conversations with others. We do live in a one bedroom flat after all, there is no space for privacy. I do not have a choice but to write it down. He thinks that I am taking a shower right now, and I am sitting on the bathroom floor. My head is throbbing from the bruise next to my eye. My husband lost his job a week ago, and since then, his temper has been worse than ever. It’s not that he has never been like this before. It is the fact that I am with him every moment of the day because of the full lockdown. Also, because we live in a small flat, I cannot call anyone for help since he will hear me, and he monitors all my texts and social media posts. I have no way out of this. Even if I could leave the flat, the only place I have to turn to is my parents’ home but I am too afraid to put them at risk of catching the virus. Home has become the most dangerous place for me to be.

Frontline Health Worker

April 6th 2020

Got home from my night shift this morning. I feel exhausted, not just because of the work itself, but because I am constantly having to work with patients suffering from a virus nobody seems to understand. Today, a 60 year old woman we have been treating for the past five years died, not because of her terminal illness which she has managed to survive somehow, but because of COVID19. The deaths are awful in themselves, but the fact that we see the deadly effects of such a virus makes it all the more frighting. First, because so many medical details are missing and often because of the lack of funding, we cannot treat the patients no matter how hard we try. Meaning, that it often feels that all our effort and hard work is not enough. Our ability to do what we dedicated our own lives to, which is saving lives, has been compromised.  That in itself is depressing. However, knowing that I may contract the virus at any moment of the day because our government cannot seem to keep up with the economic cost of making sure that we have all the equipment to remain safe, causes so much anxiety. I constantly feel like I am going to possibly harm my family. My mom and dad whom I live with are both old enough to be severely affected by the virus. It constantly feels like I am having to choose between my patients and my family.

 

Featured Image: Follow the rules and don’t panic by @matherystudio

Note: When assets did not have an obvious image available to represent them, and where the student did not wish to have their image included as part of the showcase, we have often selected images from the extraordinary collection in the official United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub, for which we are very grateful.