Women global leaders show incredible resilience to fight the pandemic, K K Shailaja at WITI APAC Summit


Former health minister of Kerala, KK Shailaja, on Wednesday highlighted the important role women leaders played in checking the pandemic globally, bringing together tech innovation, compassion and presence of mind. During her keynote session at Women in Technology International’s (WITI) APAC summit, she said the incidents of the immediate past has proven that gender does really matter.

The former minister, whose efforts in controlling the spread of the coronavirus in Kerala had garnered global attention, said women leaders adopted a unique approach that proved to be both effective and humane.

K K Shailaja said, “As we reflect on the unfathomable losses sustained owing to the pandemic, gender inequality has set back the progress we have made in decades. And yet, women represent the bulk of unpaid and unvalued workers in healthcare, along the frontiers in other sectors. We are witnessing their incredible resilience, adaptability and strength in the most adverse situations.”

“We have seen women leaders adopt an approach that is considerate, caring and humane – often qualities that are dismissed as shortcomings in a leader. Yet, they have been successful in New Zealand, Taiwan, Finland and Germany, among other places – proving that gender DOES really matter.”

“The WITI Summit will contribute immensely to explore ways to integrate technology into our everyday lives and empower women and other marginalized communities with innovations in technology creating sustainable livelihoods and nurturing a life of respect and dignity to pursue their dreams and aspirations,” she added.

Detailing the technological innovations that played a major role in combating Covid 19 in Kerala, she spoke about how robots helped deliver hand sanitizers without any physical contacts and how apps helped in contact tracing. “Drones were used to track public movement by the state police. The telemedicine app launched by the Kerala Police in association with Indian Medical Association (IMA) facilitated free video consultation with doctors. Several mobile phone based geo-fencing solutions were also used to ensure effective quarantining. There were also a plethora of apps for home delivery of essential commodities.”

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“Above all, the leadership associated with managing a coherent response to the uncertainty of the pandemic are built on one key factor: being there. Being visible and easily accessible to the teams was prime to inspire confidence and build trust,” she concluded.

The first day of WITI APAC Summit witnessed a power-packed CXO roundtable on ‘The Future of Women in APAC’.  The participants included Arundhati Bhattacharya- Chairperson & CEO Salesforce India, Elizabeth Xu- CTO, CP Group, Gargi Dasgupta-  Director IBM Research/India; CTO IBM India & South Asia, Rohini Srivathsa- National Technology Officer(CTO) Microsoft India, Rucha Nanavati- CIO, Mahindra Group. The discussion revolved around the obstacles that still plague women in the tech industry and the interventions that may be initiated to craft a better path for the future.