The TEGAs were asked to share what they would do if they were placed in charge of the pandemic response. While they shared a wide range of ideas, their responses largely fell into four main categories: prevention, relief, awareness, and implementation.

In terms of prevention, many girls were in favour of a stricter or longer lockdown, as Saziya from Bangladesh highlights:

“If I were in charge of the pandemic, firstly I would’ve made this lockdown a lot more tougher, where people would absolutely not be allowed to go out of home. And I would’ve kept the lockdown in effect for at least 20-25 days. And I think if I could’ve put the lockdown in effect, it would’ve solved more than half of the problems.”

In Malawi, Tania shares a similar thought, but regarding a lockdown of national borders:

“The first thing, I would close down the borders so that people should not travel out of the country to other countries. People should not come in from other countries to ours. In doing so, the people that have a virus here will recover within, they cannot transmit to others in another country. People with the virus in other countries will recover there too, they cannot bring it in my country.”

Rafi, also from Bangladesh, goes on to discuss both her desired solution of making people more aware of the risks they are taking by breaking social distancing rules and the challenges of attempting to regulate behavior:

“And I would have made the administration stronger so that people that are still not being conscious enough to stay home, I would have done something to make them afraid enough so that they don’t go out. Still we are seeing many people going out of home. And it’s not striking them, they’re not at all afraid of the COVID-19. Actually, I don’t know how much you can do or scare off people if they don’t become alert by themselves…if they don’t feel the fear by perceiving the seriousness of the pandemic.”

Only one TEGA, Habiba from Nigeria, expresses a desire to lift the lockdown. Even so, she discusses the need for abiding by social distancing standards and PPE use recommendations, a sentiment shared by many others:

“If I were in charge of the pandemic response in my country, the next thing I will do is to relax the lockdown. There would be no more lockdown. And the message I would send to the population is that they should continue to abide by the rules like the social distance, wearing masks, and avoiding contact with too much people, like avoiding close contact with people, that’s social distance, and using the hand sanitizers often, washing hands often, I think that’s the message I would send to the population when I relax the lockdown and allow everyone to move around, but they should maintain social distance.”

A second common theme presents among girls in all geographies: the need for greater relief for those in need.

In both India and Bangladesh, girls discuss how the understanding of ‘essentials’ needs to be expanded. Shiyona from India tells us about the need for feminine hygiene items:

“But the food grains are supplied everywhere, but there are also women in their families who are facing the problem of periods every month so with the food grains, they should also supply them sanitary pads. So they should also take care of these things otherwise we will be left behind.”

In Bangladesh, Saziya discusses how fuel for cooking is as important as food:

“I may have everything for cooking, like that auntie of mine, she had everything for cooking, still she couldn’t cook because the stove she had, she didn’t have the money for the kerosene, the fuel for that. That’s why she couldn’t cook even when she had everything. So, I think, when we distribute relief like that, so everywhere it’s mostly rice and pulses…I admit, we need these to survive. But I need a lot more things to survive…the thing that they don’t have money for lighting the stove, the fuel, this should be considered as well.”

In addition to the expansion of essentials, girls felt that if left in charge, they would have done more to assist the poor in terms of providing economic relief. Other girls focused on providing healthcare relief, saying they would focus on increased testing or better access to treatment for those in need.

Third, several TEGAs across geographies explain how they would tackle campaigns to raise awareness about the virus and how citizens should respond. Many feel that lack of proper awareness is at fault for non-compliant behaviours from certain populations. Merci from Malawi goes into her ideas for increasing awareness, with a focus on inclusion:


“If I were in charge of the pandemic response in my country, what I would do is to organise a civic education for the rural people and special civic education for urban people…I am supposed to have posters which will be posted so that people who know how to read should read. If I conduct civic education through a rally, those people who do not read should learn something from there. I can also conduct other training so that blind people should also know something. The deaf people should also know through signs.”

Ononna in Bangladesh shares a creative idea of using drama to spread awareness among rural populations:

“If some of us formed a group and went from village to village, that is at the rural level, could arrange some shows… For example, if one of us has coronavirus, what everyone is doing: what the doctors are doing, or the nurses or the police are doing. If I could do some kind of a show like that to make people aware, I think, that would have been really great. If I were in charge, I would have done exactly that.”

While most girls don’t go into how an appropriate response might be implemented and/or resourced, a few share their ideas for how this could happen. Shiyona from India recognises the need for improved human infrastructure and discusses how she would have managed the effort through delegates:

“Like if we take that the MLA or a councilor of an area can’t administer everything in that area. So instead of them, if we appoint a person of that area who is well known to everybody and the prevailing situation in the area, so that if we want to distribute grains in that area then we can hand over all the lots to the appointed member of that area so that he will distribute that to all. Also, if there is any process of the vaccine in the future, then also we have to do this otherwise the people will go out of their homes and that creates a panic situation. So for this, a trustworthy person should be appointed so that he will take care of the whole area.”

From the US, Christine believes an emergency tax on the top 1% would solve sufficiently resource the needed response:

“If I were in charge of the pandemic response in my country, first and foremost I would place an emergency tax on the top 1% of people economically in the US and have the money from that tax alone support the funding for millions of U.S. citizens who are facing all sorts of economic hardships.”

Others, however, discuss the need for micro generosity. Instead of regulated and centralised relief efforts, these girls express the value and need for communities and individuals to provide for one another. Ononna from Bangladesh, summarises this attitude:

“And the communities in the pandemic are doing some really great works. They’re helping the helpless and I just saw a couple of days ago, a group is being formed to do some work. Now that paddy is being harvested, since it’s the season for that, so they’re being divided in groups, they’re going to the different areas in small groups of 2 or 3 people. And there they are doing the job for less money and are making some money. These people, the communities, these works are being arranged by the very people of our village. The communities, they are providing it and are helping people and their families. And there are many rich people…They are giving away many things as fitra to everyone like clothes and everything for the whole family. From vermicelli and sugar to everything, everything a family needs…We have to highlight the necessities and have to remember about these in the future. If we continue such activities in the future, people in our village will do just fine.”