a clinical worker wearing all blue medical gear

Women are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19

They’re ‘the shock absorbers of society’: a majority in the global health workforce, but scarce in its leadership ranks. Can that change?

Elizabeth Wanjiru, a Red Cross nurse, stands as she is introduced during a celebration of nurses at Kenyatta stadium in Machakos, Kenya, where a field hospital has been established for treating COVID-19.

Photograph by Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images

In mid-May, Emma Robbins boarded a private plane in Van Nuys, California, with just three passengers: herself, Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn, and renowned video and film director Sam Bayer. Penn and Bayer were heading to the Navajo Nation for a meeting with President Jonathan Nez to discuss how Penn’s humanitarian aid organization, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), could provide assistance, including COVID-19 testing, to the reservation during the pandemic. They invited Robbins to come along.

The 33-year-old artist and community activist almost didn’t accept the last-minute invitation—she had too much to do in her Los Angeles office. But she couldn’t pass up the chance for a quick trip to the place where she grew up and where she serves

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