Social Media platform, Twitter, recognises women who championed pandemic relief in India, calling them ‘Covid Sheroes’. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Twitter has played a critical role in keeping people connected and amplifying authoritative information from credible sources.
It emerged as a real-time helpline as people supported one another on the service. Among these were many women from different parts of India, representing diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages, who used Twitter effectively to share reliable information and offer support to those in need. To acknowledge the efforts of these women and their contributions to Covid-relief through their online communities, Twitter India and women rights organisation Breakthrough came together to recognise them as ‘Covid Sheroes’.
Earlier this year, Twitter India in partnership with Breakthrough (@INBreakthrough) called upon the community to nominate women who made exemplary efforts towards providing support during the pandemic. These were women who used the social media platform to connect people to resources, amplify SOS calls and provide on-ground aid however they could.
Payal Kamat, Public Policy and Government, Twitter India, said, “As Indians came together to deal with the second wave of Covid-19, it was humbling to see women across all walks of life actively taking charge to have good faith public conversation and bring relief to those seeking help. Thanks to the open internet and the power of public conversation, people can create action, and thus we’re leaning into that by celebrating these Covid Sheroes. In partnership with Breakthrough, we’re proud to recognise these women, and hope that their achievements inspire many more to emerge as instruments of change.”
Sohini Bhattacharya, CEO, Breakthrough Trust, Breakthrough: “Time and again, we’ve witnessed the strength of community and camaraderie in helping people overcome the worst of adversities. During Covid-19, unprecedented as we call it, humanity was struck in a way that distanced communities themselves. The power of the internet, especially Twitter, is what rescued many of those suffering, and the wave of humanity, kindness and community support that emerged was humbling and inspiring. We saw people going out of their way to connect others with help and resources, and the way some of the women on Twitter utilised their reach and equity on the platform is testimony to their spirit of leadership. It is our honour to be honouring these women and encourage them further as they continue to make society a better place.”
After screening through 110 nominated profiles, six women were featured:
* Arpita Chowdhury, New Delhi: 20-year-old Arpita is an undergraduate student at the Delhi University, and the founder of Jazbaat Foundation, a Delhi-based project to uplift underprivileged students. To support Covid relief work during the second wave in India, she started the #LetsFightCovidTogether initiative on April 21. As part of the initiative, she created a live database of information around resources, including hospital beds, oxygen supplies, medical aid, and more.
* Fathaheen Misbah, 35, Mysore: Fathaheen works in IT, but finds her calling in serving humanity and creating a positive change. It was this calling that led her to the forefront of Covid relief. She used her community and reach on Twitter to amplify requests for help, and connect those in need with resources. From arranging blood plasma to sharing information around the availability of beds, drugs and medicines — Fathaheen was able to bring hope to people. Not only did she get in touch with those seeking support on Twitter, but was also able to reach out to people not on the service and help them find resources.
* Maggie Inbamutiah 45, Bengaluru: Maggie works extensively across social welfare, diversity, and inclusion. She works with Puppetica India to bring Indian stories to life and also runs a non-profit called Mandram to promote discourses in regional languages in India, as well as an outdoor venture, Happifeet connecting people with nature. Amid Covid-19, she led a team of volunteers in South Bangalore — dealing with more than 40 SOS requests per day. Discovering these requests and SOS calls through Twitter, her team was able to help find a BBMP bed for a crematorium worker; provide access to an EMCO machine for a patient from Ahmedabad with the help of two other NGOs; and help a pregnant woman with Covid-19 find appropriate medical help, among other achievements.
* Mithila Naik-Satnam, 25, Mumbai: Mithila is a Communications Consultant from Mumbai, and works with the Charkha Development Communication Network, Delhi on a UNICEF India project. She also volunteers with the Khaana Chahiye Foundation (@khaanachahiye), where she looks at partnerships and digital outreach. Through Twitter, Mithila was able to amplify the work of the Foundation, and reach a wider audience. During the pandemic, she leveraged her digital expertise and the Khaana Chahiye community on the service to help people access beds, medical supplies and oxygen.
* Sabita Chanda, 40, Delhi: Sabita is a career coach and HR advisor turned humanitarian, who spends her time lending support to people in need. She started the MigrantWorkers Movement, extending food and ration support to over 8000 migrants who were left homeless, often starving, by the pandemic. She also helped underprivileged children from struggling families gain access to online classes through smartphones and laptops. Her work towards helping people find medical aid, especially that of catering to over 1200 requests for blood plasma, earned her the hat of Plasma Queen. She also worked with state governments in the north-east and Himachal Pradesh to help connect people with medical aid. Dedicated to social welfare, Sabita continues to support people to find access to ration and arrange funds for students seeking admission to schools.
* Seema Mishra, 47, Ghaziabad: Registrar and Academic Head at ICR ILAM group, Seema is a panel advisor and mentor to various startups. As a passionate humanitarian, Seema founded the Develop India Foundation NGO, and has been working extensively towards education equality, empowerment and environmental causes.
During the pandemic, Seema started working with a group of volunteers to provide medical aid to those seeking resources for their family and friends. Along with her team, she connected people to food, blood plasma, and hospital beds by making the most of her network on Twitter. She also helped several stranded migrants find their way back home amidst the nation-wide lockdown. Currently, she’s working towards creating vaccine awareness and helping combat people’s hesitance towards the vaccine. Seema has found appreciation and recognition for her work over the years — being awarded as the ‘Influencer of Ghaziabad’ for Womennovator — the first virtual global incubator for women. She was also featured in a book, Changemakers, about social impact by 11 inspiring Indian women.