Financial Times’ annual list of most influential women of the year is here and Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja has been featured in it. The list consists of 12 most influential women of 2020. Shailaja “Teacher” made headlines for her relentless work in fighting and containing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.
“Throughout this difficult year, women have emerged more prominently than ever on the world stage as politicians and scientists, activists and authors. Over the next few days, we celebrate those who have put their stamp on 2020,” FT Magazine said.
The list also includes prominent names such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, among others.
66-year-old Shailaja is the minister for health, social justice and women and child development in Kerala. She has set a benchmark for world leaders and is hailed as “The Coronavirus Slayer” by Vogue India. Earlier in September, she was named as the winner of the World’s Top 50 Thinkers of COVID-19 Age by UK-based Prospect Magazine. Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, was in second place. Earlier in June, Shailaja was also invited to speak at the United Nations Public Service Day, the only Indian to be invited this year.
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The former high school teacher-turned politician had earlier shared her experiences of tackling the Nipah virus and the two devastating floods that happened in 2018 and 2019 and how the state was able to recognise and contain the coronavirus outbreak at an early stage. She said she believes in the importance of the health sector and has been successfully securing a low fatality rate in the state. As of November 2020, she is still considered one of the few world woman leaders, who had accurately averted the crisis and administrated the odds of the next and more difficult phase of the global pandemic.
Combating the coronavirus
The minister is known to have established a rapid response team and control rooms in the 14 districts as the first step to control the spread. The state barred international flights two days before the country went into lockdown. Under her guidance, out of the 6.3 lakh migrant workers who were being sheltered in government run-camps across India, Kerala cared for around half – 47 percent, who were later slowly moved to their natives via charter trains, reported The Wire.