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'Mulan spirit' should inspire amid COVID-19 outbreak

By Pan Mengqi | | Updated: 2020-04-27 17:26
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Women should continue the heroism and bravery of Mulan in a world turned upside down by the death and destruction rendered by COVID-19, British ambassador to China Barbara Woodward said during a forum held over the weekend.

Mulan is a Chinese maiden who disguises herself as a male warrior to save her father in an ancient Chinese story.

"The story of the girl warrior's heroism and bravery has rightly endured through the ages. To speak up as women, we need to make sure that in the world we rebuild after COVID-19 women are seen, heard and respected," Woodward said during the Global Mulan Forum held online on Saturday.

Woodward hailed women's contributions during the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

"COVID-19 has brought an array of female role models to our attention. Here in China, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan has been part of the Central Guidance Group and visited Wuhan in the difficult early days. In the United States, Dr Deborah Birx is the US Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House.

"As we look ahead to recovery, we can call on the wisdom and experience of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde."

The ambassador also noted the important contributions made by female medical workers on the frontline in containing the disease.

"We have rightly celebrated their dedication and heroism in the UK and China. In the UK, Professor Sarah Gilbert is currently leading a team of scientists at the University of Oxford who are hoping to create a million doses by September if their vaccines prove effective."

Woodward said during the global health crisis, stressing female leadership while tackling discrimination is of great importance. While saying the world should continue to support role models for women leaders, Woodward pledged to protect women's rights and equality.

"Mulan underwent great hardship and suffering on behalf of her father. Women should no longer face that discrimination and hardship," she said.

"In the UK we have seen a sharp rise in calls to domestic violence hotlines. From February to March, clicks on the website for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline increased by 156 percent," Woodward said, adding that data around the world shows similar concerning patterns.

"If women, as Mulan showed us 1,500 years ago, throw off the cloak around our identity and speak up, we can build a future where women can lead, be empowered and be free from fear. The British embassy's commitment to gender equality in 2020 remains as strong as Mulan's feisty will 1,500 years ago," Woodward said.

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