Women around the world share lessons learned during the pandemic

By Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 11:48 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021
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3:00 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Judith Le Blanc, Native Organizers Alliance

Judith Le Blanc, citizen of the Caddo Nation and director of the Native Organizers Alliance, said the pandemic "is the biggest interruption we have experienced in our lifetime."

"It has interrupted our lives, our life ways and our communities," she told CNN.

She said that since 'the beginning of time" these interruptions have always happened.

"The way we walk, what we do in the present is shaped by our ancestral responsibilities and the hopes and dreams for our descendants.That is how we must create the path forward."

2:49 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

April Ryan, journalist and author

From CNN's Madeleine Fitzgerald

Journalist April Ryan said the pandemic taught her that "it's OK to be vulnerable."

"I've learned it's OK to be vulnerable but I've also learned it's a necessity in that vulnerability to arm myself with truth and healing and health to help my family navigate safely to the next day and the next year."

"I have an 18-year-old who's at home on her way to college, it's our bonding time, and I have a 13 year old who needs us now more than ever before, and the examples that I give, teach them how to be the women of today and tomorrow," Ryan added.

2:36 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Cynthia Germanotta, co-founder "Born This Way Foundation"

From CNN's Madeleine Fitzgerald 

Cynthia Germanotta, mother of Lady Gaga and co-founder of the "Born This Way Foundation," said one lesson she's learned this year is that "there's immense power in being kind to others and to ourselves."

"Always remember, especially in the face of struggle, that you matter, you are loved," she told CNN.
"I've raised two strong women to be champions of kindness and I'm so proud of them for that. I tell them, as I tell you, that you're enough to the women in my life and in our world. I see you, I'm in awe of you, let's continue to use kindness to lift each other up and keep changing the world." 
2:40 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Elsa Majimbo, Kenyan comedian

From CNN's Stephanie Busari

Elsa Majimbo, Kenyan comedienne.
Elsa Majimbo, Kenyan comedienne. Courtesy Elsa Majimbo

Kenyan comedian Elsa Majimbo has been keeping audiences entertained online throughout the pandemic.

To mark International Women's Day, she told CNN:

“You should always follow your heart, life can change in a heartbeat depending on how you treat it.”

2:15 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Katie Horwitch, founder "Women Against Negative Talk"

Katie Horwitch, founder of "Women Against Negative Talk," said the biggest lesson she's learned from the pandemic is about having the power to face your fears.

"True fearlessness is when the fear you have of a situation is less than the faith you have in yourself."

"Lowering your fear is super hard. And to be honest, I’d never advise anyone to write over their fear (and definitely wouldn’t ever order them to just “think positive” and ignore the rest.) Fear is there for a reason. It’s a human emotion and serves an important purpose," she explained.

"But upping your faith? That’s a different story. Every tiny thing you have faith in – notice it. It counts. List out the reasons you already have to have faith in who you are. And slowly, the fear-to-faith scales start to tip from the fear over to the faith."

1:56 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Brandi Rhodes, professional wrestler

Brandi Rhodes, professional wrestler and the chief brand officer for All Elite Wrestling, said the pandemic taught her that you "always have to be able to adjust and adapt on the spot."

"Things are changing and you just have to be malleable. You have to make it happen. You also have to be super sensitive to people’s feelings. Everyone is experiencing this pandemic in a different way. So always just be attuned that, hey, you’re not the only one in this, there are other people in this. We’re all in this together."

2:08 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Lily Rabe, American actress

From CNN's Jacqueline Rose

Actress Lily Rabe.
Actress Lily Rabe. Courtesy Lily Rabe

Actress Lily Rabe told CNN the pandemic showed her "an uphill day doesn't necessarily mean a bad tomorrow."

“One thing this time has profoundly reiterated to me is how emotional arcs are never linear. An uphill day doesn’t necessarily mean a bad tomorrow. Find whatever it is that can bring you back to the present moment, again and again and again.”

1:59 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Moogega Cooper, planetary protection engineer for the Mars Mission

From CNN's Gloria De Leon

Moogega Cooper is the lead planetary protection engineer for Mars 2020 and is involved with the InSight Mission, preventing NASA satellites and probes from contaminating other planets.

"Living through the pandemic has taught me many things but one of the lessons learned is the importance of constantly sharpening ones communications skills," she told CNN.

"In the time of virtual meetings and interactions, it’s important to remember that your colleagues aren’t mind readers and nor are you. So understanding the person’s communication style and understanding your dynamic will really allow you to keep that positive momentum going."

"Living through the pandemic has also shown me that humans are capable of remarkable things and of PERSEVERING through very difficult times. So let’s keep surprising ourselves and doing fantastic things in this world," she added.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Sheryl Sandberg, founder of "Lean In"

From CNN's Poppy Harlow and Nora Neus

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of "Lean In," said the pandemic has impacted women more than men but it has also shown us how strong women are.

"Women are strong, women do the great majority of the world’s work," she told CNN.

"We are in the middle of a health crisis, we are in the middle of an economic crisis, and we’re in the middle of a crisis for women. But through it, we know how strong we are, we find that strength inside, and we help not just pull ourselves through it, but we help other women."