Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja is among the most recognised faces of 2020. Her deft handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Kerala in the initial stages, led to the state being lauded as a benchmark for effective pandemic management. As Kerala’s Health Minister, Shailaja Teacher received global recognition this year. In June 2020, the United Nations invited her as a panelist at the UN Public Service Day. UK’s Prospect Magazine named her as the ‘top thinker’ of the COVID-19 age while the Guardian too, published a long feature calling her ‘the Coronavirus slayer’. Following this, the Minister has now been recognised by the venerable Financial Times (FT), which included her in a list of 12 most influential women of 2020.
“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,” the story, published as part of FT Magazine series begins.
The list includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel; New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; artist Taylor Swift; Stacey Abrams - the US politician who played a key role in Joe Biden winning Georgia; US politician Alexandrai Ocasio-Cortez; President of Taiwan - Tsai Ing-Wen; US Vice President elect Kamala Harris, etc. Titled ‘Women of 2020’, this list was compiled with the help of FT’s readers.
According to reports, Shailaja Teacher was nominated by an FT reader who goes by the name LondonReader. While nominating the Health Minister, the reader also referred to her as Coronavirus Slayer - a moniker given to her by the Guardian, in their cover story on her.
“I nominate Kerala’s coronavirus slayer and rock-star health minister for remarkable health outcomes,” the reader stated.
The paper’s ‘Women of 2020’ series is an attempt to profile some of the most influential women of the year. FT adds that the list is by no means exhaustive. 'Each year there are far more women who deserve to be included than we can possibly fit,' it says.