Take Five: "What we are going through right now is a life lesson for everyone."
Natalia Klinsky Amelunge is a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of COVID-19 at the National Health Fund in Bolivia and the Anita Leigue Municipal Health Center. She spoke with UN Women about the challenges that women face in the front-line response and what we can learn from them. In Bolivia, UN Women has launched public communication campaigns to make women’s role visible and to prevent the shadow pandemic of violence against women. In coordination with the government, UN Women is also distributing food, clothing and other necessities in migrant camps bordering Chile.
This interview has been edited and condensed based on the interview published on the UN Women Latin America and the Caribbean website
How has the COVID-19 crisis influenced your work?
I studied medicine so that I could help people. I love my job, I love caring for patients, and I am proud to be part of the healthcare providers in these difficult times. I have been practising [as a general practitioner] for two years. As part of a new generation of doctors, I have a firm commitment to [protect and fulfill] the right to health, especially now, as we face COVID-19.
What are the unique challenges faced by women on the front line of care and COVID-19 response?
Women are usually the ones who care for our children, and our parents, and as we know, older patients are most at risk. Here in Bolivia, we've noticed that the majority of health care personnel who are in contact with COVID-19 patients are women.
I am a young person in good health, and I do not have children at home, but I do live with my mother; I am terrified of infecting her. However, many of my colleagues—doctors, nurses, cleaning and laboratory staff— are single mothers, or they have young children that they have to care for, which ultimately, puts them and their children at risk. Our greatest fear is that we have brought the virus home, or that we would be infected by the virus and have to leave our children, parents, and family behind if we have to be hospitalized.
What effect do you think this pandemic will have on women and girls in the future in Bolivia?
I think that what we are experiencing right now is a life lesson for everyone.
Many women have realized how strong we are. We've seen women take charge and lead several solidarity campaigns, and take on multiple roles.
People in general are more supportive; we’ve had to be brave in a difficult situation and mobilize resources like never before to get food to areas where it is needed most.. Women have been first responders in this crisis, and we can feel proud of what we’ve accomplished and demand to be treated with respect and equality, both personally and professionally. I don’t think we can ever forget that we went through a global pandemic and that we stood firm and faced it. That should give us greater self-esteem and respect as women. We know that we can handle anything, we are warriors! 𠊊s a woman and a doctor, starting my career in healthcare, I feel proud to have been at the forefront of this battle, and I feel prepared to face anything that comes my way.