Dr. Hania Sholkamy, professor at the Social Research Center of The American University in Cairo, and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the UNESCO Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme offers three succinct comments on the current pandemic.
1. The pandemic, and the global reactions to it, invite social science revisions rather than social science assertions. The incredible speed with which science and technology have geared up to suggest options, solutions and analysis is understandable given the nature of the challenge. But the soft voices expressing social concerns or analysis (that I have read or noted) could potentially and should urgently think of the future and how society can organize itself to meet new demands for a humanity/ covid-19 coexistence. In other words, what does social science have to say and how can it contribute to a fair and effective response?
2. Lockdown is an experience that women in patriarchal societies knew well. The ways in which distancing further undermines the weak can enable thinking about equality and capability that factors in location and isolation. The gender aspects of this new world are troubling as on the one hand health and social careers are now recognized as heroes and many of them are women, on the other the prospect of lay-offs, winding down of informal and occasional work arrangements, heavy burdens of home making and lack of access to technology and to tools of connection with non-domestic allies are unfairly affecting women.
3.The vast challenges and breakdown in education is well recognized by UNESCO but how are governments being advised on the moral and rights-based approach to dealing with these breakdowns in resource poor countries?