Fostering Unity In A Year of Pain & Isolation

For most people, the end of any year is traditionally a time of reflection. A time to take stock of whatever happened in the past 12 months.

Lockdowns across the world meant that our “normal” lives were immediately replaced by remote working, virtual office meetings while online events became a necessity. This is why reflecting on the extraordinary year that 2020 has been seems more important this time for me than ever before.

For all its eventfulness, 2020 has for many been a lost year, in several senses of the word: An enormous number of human lives were lost, while at the same time pausing on a long term basis the progress of family and career goals. This year of unprofound uncertainty forced countless events and holiday meetings either onto Zoom or out of existence. And it distorted many people’s sense of time, causing months-long stretches to seem a blur. Overnight the demand for the use of digital technologies due to the social distancing norms and nationwide lockdowns saw individual and organisations alike adjust to new ways of work and life.

It’s believed that the internet is a global resource and no one country can control its protocols and features right? Not really! What most people don’t know know is that the internet’s local access and availability remains an in-country issue. During the pandemic we also saw some countries restrict access to the internet, for certain reasons. A move that has led to a huge digital divide, so much more for African women. The pandemic has brought the world to a situation where those not connected to the internet are facing total exclusion. With strict social and physical distancing measures in place, now more than ever our new routines require accessing the internet for most things. Hence, why we at Teakisi urge governments and organisations around the world to create more resources for those who are on the wrong side of the digital divide otherwise we risk increasingly and completely leaving them out.

It’s a no brainer that the most prominent story to come out of 2020 has been the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with dozens of research teams around the world spending this year trying to develop a a vaccine, which is widely seen as the way to bring an end to the pandemic and see life return to the old normal. Then there was the August massive explosion at the Port of Beirut that levelled parts of Lebanon’s capital. The source of the blast was improperly stored ammonium nitrate which had caught fire. More than 200 people died as a result of the blast, which also left thousands hurt, many missing, and caused damage as far as 10 kilometres from the blast site. 2020 also gave us the Iranian plane crash, Australian wildfires, US presidential elections, the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, without forgetting to mention the mass unemployment and businesses struggling to stay viable.

With world identities shaped by shared experiences, the above mentioned are a handful of significant experiences that stand out – but what stands out above the rest for me this year is the May killing of George Floyd in America. On the 25th of May, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life. This tragic event, brought into sharp focus the issue of racial inequalities, not only in terms of policing but also more generally, on all continents of the world.

You could say that remote working and the conversation around work/life balance were surely one of the main themes of 2020, due to the above unnecessary murder of a human being the other has surely been diversity and inclusion. To my knowledge, 2020 has accelerated the conversation on diversity and inclusion more that any other year before it. Last month here in the UK, the Joint Committee on Human Rights published their Report “Black People, Racism and Human Rights”, which concludes that the Government must urgently take action to protect the human rights of Black people, including within healthcare, criminal justice, nationality and immigration and democracy. It is very clear to all of that the murder of George Floyd and the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement has united politicians and business leaders around the globe over the need for greater racial equality.

It is hardly surprising, then, that many businesses have been establishing, re-examining or ramping up their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Diversity within organisations, and in various professions is paramount. The need to listen to employees with different backgrounds and perspectives, promotes understanding and awareness, and ultimately drives positive change. While some progress has been achieved in improving racial diversity, there is still a long way to go to build a world that is truly, and equally, diverse. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace goes far beyond a reporting or PR exercise. It means creating a genuinely fair and equal organization, where everyone have the same opportunities for professional development, career pathing, and access to resources.

“The whole point about human rights is that they are supposed to be universal. Yet here in the UK it is clear that Black people are in no doubt that the protection of their rights are inferior to those of white people.

“We urge the government to take specific actions which will ensure Black people have equal human rights. Commissioning reports and apologising is not enough.”

Ms Harriet Harman QC MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Change, unfortunately, doesn’t happen overnight – but we at Teakisi are committed to improving, and building resources and courses that support African women and ethnic minorities. Entering into 2021, we hope to continue updating our services – let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see, or any questions you might have, on info@teakisi.com

About Salha Kaitesi 57 Articles
Mother, Daughter of Rwanda| Founder, Artistic Director and Executive Editor of Teakisi| Gender Equality and Empowerment Champion| None Of Us Can Move Forward If Half Of Us Are Left Behind

4 Comments

  1. Change, indeed, does not happen overnight but we have to start somewhere.
    Thank you for using your platform to share African women’s experiences.

    • This has been and continues to be my almost pleasure. Thank you for being a part of this dream of mine .. I pray and hope 2021 is kinder to all of us .. Amen!

  2. Excellent piece, SLK! Perhaps as we reflect on global events that have disrupted the ‘old normal’ as we knew it, it’s even more pertinent to think more deeply about how issues like diversity can be made to resonate with our rapidly evolving African society.

    • Thanks for reading Peter .., I hear you. For some reason people might thing just coz the majority of those where you including the larger part of Africa are black, that diversity, racism and it’s issues don’t exist. It is certainly wrong to think that way. I know they do and perhaps this is something we should highlight too in the new year Insha’Allah

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