How Global Women Leaders Are Creating Lasting Change in the Face of the Pandemic

From translating information about COVID into the Indigenous language Mazatec in Mexico, to making sure migrant women returning home are quarantining properly with the right supplies in India, women are at the forefront of stopping the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting life in every part of our world and we are seeing, firsthand, how critical it is to leverage ingenuity and strength at the local level.

In response to the pandemic, The Hunger Project has mobilized over 500,000 trained, local leaders in 13 countries around the world to create COVID-resilient communities in each of the 14,000 villages where we work. Women have been some of the most proactive members of the COVID-19 response—creating innovative solutions to the compounding difficulties of this pandemic.

Meet a few of them:

Aisha Nanfuka, Uganda

How Global Women Leaders Are Creating Lasting Change in the Face of the Pandemic
Aisha Nanfuka holds her data tracker. Mpigi, Uganda. 2020. (Courtesy of The Hunger Project)

Aisha Nanfuka, a volunteer community leader from Uganda, has been working tirelessly throughout the lockdown to ensure that her community adheres to COVID-19 safety guidelines by regularly washing their hands, wearing face masks, and social distancing.

Most importantly, she is making sure that women in her community continue to access family planning services despite the pandemic. She mobilized 16 fellow women leaders to continue family planning outreach in eight villages after the government lockdown began. The team distributed contraceptive pills and antiretroviral medication to HIV+ community members who could not walk the long distance to the health center. Nanfuka and her team supported 153 women during the lockdown—including 22 who underwent cervical cancer tests and one who underwent surgery.

Anju Anwera Parvin Moyna, Bangladesh

How Global Women Leaders Are Creating Lasting Change in the Face of the Pandemic
Anju Anwera Parvin Moyna receives a medal for her exceptional volunteerism. Bangladesh. (Courtesy of The Hunger Project)

In March 2020, Anju, a long-time volunteer community leader with The Hunger Project, was determined to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in her district. She started by setting up handwashing stations in front of her own house and urged her community members to learn proper handwashing techniques. She helped set up additional stations in the surrounding villages and organized a group of volunteers to run a hygiene campaign, broadcasting key public health messages over loudspeakers and distributing leaflets.

Realizing that many of the most vulnerable people in her community were going without, Anju organized a community philanthropy drive. She and her volunteers collected nearly $8,500 of food and other necessities and distributed it to more than 1,500 families. 

If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

Liliana Martinez, Mexico 

How Global Women Leaders Are Creating Lasting Change in the Face of the Pandemic
Liliana Martinez in her home village Ranch Piñeda. Oaxaca, Mexica. 2019. (Courtesy of The Hunger Project)

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Liliana Martinez quickly realized that all of the critical information coming from the Mexican government and international organizations about the virus was written in Spanish, a language many in her Indigenous community do not speak. Working closely with The Hunger Project and UNFPA, Liliana helped create posters in her native language, Mazateca.

Knowing how vital the information was and that many in her community could not read, Liliana also made audio recordings for her community to share on WhatsApp and other platforms to ensure the information could reach everyone.

Women of Uttarakhand, India 

How Global Women Leaders Are Creating Lasting Change in the Face of the Pandemic
A panchayat president helps an elderly woman don her mask. Dharchula, Uttarakhand, India. 2020. (Courtesy of The Hunger Project)

With the rise of food insecurity during the pandemic, locally elected women in 200 panchayats (village council-level government) in India came together to organize a planting campaign to improve the availability and lower the costs of food locally. Leveraging the annual festival of Herela, which celebrates the start of monsoon season and the next sowing cycle, the women encouraged their communities to plant a wide range of fruit trees—including mango, lychee, orange, lemon, mulberry and apricot—to improve nutrition; medicinal plants to boost immunity; and fodder trees for livestock.

This campaign not only supported the food security of 1,000 villages, it helped replenish the forests and preserve the local ecosystems—a long-term goal for the elected women in this area.  

Women across the world are rising to the challenge of this global crisis, saving lives and creating a wave of positive impact. Given the opportunity and tools, women change the world.

Up next:


The Hunger Project is a global nonprofit committed to the sustainable end of world hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.