by Manisha Sharma, SFU Student
The pandemic has not only taken an economic, emotional, and mental toll on all of us, but has also increased the inequalities in our society. Inequalities like poverty, homelessness, racism, and, of course, misogyny. Many women are now working from home and are having to manage their personal and professional lives. All of this creates a lot of stress on oneself. Now imagine being a health official in a time where uncertainty is at its prime and then being insulted and terrorized.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has been experiencing exactly that. It’s the 21st century and women have been considered persons in Senate for over 90 years in Canada. Yet women still face more abuse than men often at the hands of men. This situation with Dr. Bonnie Henry is no different.
Dr. Henry reported receiving death threats and other various forms of harassment to her own safety late last month, forcing her to require security around her house. Other colleagues had also received forms of abuse, but none to the degree of that she had received. Dr. Henry alluded to the abuse she received having to do with her being a woman in politics, a field usually dominated by males. Other female officials have also received threats and have been harassed.
One research article finds evidence that female public figures/politicians face more uncivilized messages than their male counterparts. Males in these same positions also experience verbal abuse — but not based on their gender. The notion that women are incapable of being political leaders, government officials, and so on is an old and completely false belief. Dr. Bonnie Henry is one great example of a compassionate, intelligent woman who is completely capable of being a public health official. She has spread awareness of how to keep ourselves safe in the midst of this pandemic and done so in a calm and kind manner.
A need for more diversity, more women in politics and government positions is needed to help establish the capability of women in official positions. Moreover this demand ensures that women are held to a standard that their male counterparts are held to. Abuse and harassment will not be tolerated and accepted towards any public health official.