This December marks a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has challenged human civilization in a way never before seen. To commemorate that milestone, the Virginia Tech Department of English hosted a virtual conversation among scholars with transnational research expertise in feminism as well as community work experience in disasters such as pandemics.

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Featured speakers in “One Year of COVID-19: How Women Across the World Are Coping, Managing, and Resisting COVID-19” included Ricia Anne Chansky, a professor of literature at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez; Neeti Aryal Khanal, a lecturer on sociology at the Tribhuvan University in Kirtipur, Nepal; and Tosin Akibu, a programme specialist at UN Women Nigeria in Abuja.

Sweta Baniya, an assistant professor of rhetoric and professional and technical writing in the Department of English, moderated the event, which took place on December 7, 2020.

In “Decolonial Eating: Food Sovereignty in Times of Disaster,” Chansky applied lessons from her study of Hurricane Maria to the COVID-19 pandemic, contending that feminist collaborative approaches to food sovereignty have the potential to resituate disaster response and preparedness.

In “Caring for the Most Vulnerable: Stories of Nepali Women COVID-19 Warriors,” Khanal discussed how the pandemic has affected the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Nepal. She also told the stories of several Nepali women leaders who rose above the challenges and embraced the roles of carers of the most vulnerable people affected by COVID-19.

Finally, in “Resilience of Nigerian Women and Women’s Coalitional Effort in Managing the COVID-19 Crisis,” Akibu described how women’s coalitions came together for the fight for basic human rights during the pandemic as well as the work of UN Women and the impact of the pandemic on women and girls, their key role within the crisis, and their different strategies for coping.

The program was supported by an International Initiatives Small Grant from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences as well as the Department of English.