Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has commended the women who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.
Speaking on a panel of distinguished guests at the first-ever virtual Heroines of Health Gala, hosted by the NGO Women in Global Health, Madam Sirleaf congratulated the seven women selected as the 2021 “Heroines of Health,” an award given to women healthcare workers who dedicated their lives to giving healthcare to others while striving for gender equality.
Madam Sirleaf applauded the Heroines for working tirelessly and fearlessly throughout the pandemic, and called for more recognition and better conditions for these essential workers:
“Those who take the risk, those who are on the frontlines, those who help the most vulnerable, the health workforce, and particularly community health workers serve untiringly to save the affected and remain far below the benefit pool of recognition compensation and training opportunities.”
Madam Sirleaf said that she sees herself in the women who fought on the frontlines of the pandemic, and expressed confidence that they will inspire younger generations of girls with their resilience and strength:
“ represent dynamism, creativity, and the courage of taking on a challenge, and they have done so at a very young age, and they have won…Through their example, through their role models, there will be so many others that will become heroines and can also address the needs of others.”
Congratulating the Heroines, Madam Sirleaf shared her hopes for their futures:
“May you gain strength. May you have the winds behind your back to move you to a greater level of leadership… May you someday soon become an Amujae Leader, so that behind you, promoting you to see that you achieve the goals that you have set, not only for higher positions but to enable you to continue the work of addressing the needs of humanity.”
In addition to Madam Sirleaf, the event also featured Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO; Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women and Assistant Secretary-General; Dr. Suraya Dalil, Director, WHO Special Programme on Primary Health Care; Laura Nel, Director, Global Community Impact, The Johnson & Johnson Foundation; Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director and co-founder, Women in Global Health; and Mumbi Macharia, spoken-word poet.
Last year, the EJS Center ran a similar campaign, “Spotlight a COVID-19 Heroine”, to acknowledge African women who demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to their communities in their responses to the pandemic.
Watch the full event here.