A new decade started and I was hopeful, but something happened that challenged my hope. I did not see the warning signs of the Coronavirus when it hit Europe during February/March 2020. At the beginning I did not know what was happening and did not realize that the virus was not like the flu I had known before. Europe and the whole world have been in full lockdown. People were asked to stay at home and to leave only for groceries, medicine and potentially to go to work. The world’s economy was greatly impacted and in-person meetings were forbidden to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus.
In some European countries, WDP women were not able to celebrate the 2020 program written by WDP Zimbabwe. They did receive the booklets of the 2020 program, so they could have at least an overview and a sense of the Zimbabwe celebration. However, it was not enough and we needed to find ways to communicate differently.
As physical distancing became the norm, people started to organise themselves and become creative. How to stay in touch? How to meet as national/regional/local committees? How to start planning for the 2021 Vanuatu program?
Most of the European committees are already using social media but at times it does not feel like it is enough and it is too difficult to use. It is at this moment that I discovered the means of videoconferencing, which had been used for the Executive Committee meeting organized by the WDPIC office in New York. In the beginning, I was hesitant but I understood that we need to be innovative. After some tests, most of the WDP women using this means are thankful that they can get in touch again. Yes, we are still here and the movement is still alive!
Although videoconferencing may have its limits it is a vital way to stay connected. However, there are limitations that need to be taken into consideration, otherwise some WDP members will be left behind. It may be easy to assume that the problem is aging, but the main issue with online services is connectivity. Depending on where someone lives, internet access and good networks are not always available. Many people still rely on printed materials and physical connections. It is one of the many challenges in the foreseeable future.
Social media and communication applications have helped us overcome the feeling of isolation. Through videoconferencing, I realised that we have not yet ran out of all communication possibilities. It is a new exciting journey. As we keep an eye on the pandemic, we also need to make sure no one is left behind on this journey. This pandemic has brought to light that WDP women will always find a way to keep the movement alive, and that we will never give up. We are resilient, we persevere and we rise!
Blessings to all and stay safe!
- Emmanuelle Bauer, WDPIC Regional Representative of Europe