Women in evidence: recognition for coping with COVID-19

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariah Vicari Bolognani, a third-year medical student at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos – UNICEPLAC, in Brasilia, Brazil. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


    Throughout history, women have had to face many challenges in order to reduce the inequalities imposed by a mostly sexist society, mainly in Brazil. Perhaps, as a result of the struggles for their rights, women have been standing out in the fight against COVID-19, playing fundamental roles in the most diverse areas of health, a pandemic that brought chaos into health systems, leaving thousands of people dead.

    In some hospitals of the Public Healthcare System in the capital of the country, women make up 70% of the teams that are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. In the health teams of the emergency room and in Intensive Care Units, nursing stands out, in particular, for the direct and constant contact with patients affected by the coronavirus. It is remarkable that most of these teams are composed by women, who often give up living with their family members and have to isolate themselves due to the fear of high risk of contamination. Women that faced multiple roles with a triple workday when conciliating the chores of the home, career and raising their children now find themselves on an exhausting journey within collapsed and saturated health systems. Women who fight every day for the lives of their patients, like the nursing assistant Mônica Calazans, 54 years old, the first person to be vaccinated on Brazilian soil, a black woman, belonging to the risk group for being obese, hypertensive and diabetic, is a single mother, and yet she acts with competence in the front line. In her testimony, she reinforces that “The one who has the gift of taking care of people knows how to feel their pain and never leaves them”.

    In the scope of the research, we again see the woman’s ascent to important roles; the biomedical doctor Jaqueline Goes, Ingra Morales, Flávia Salles and the pharmaceutical Erika Manuli are the researchers at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP), together with the physician Ester Sabino sequenced the coronavirus genome in just 48 hours after the first case in Latin America had been confirmed, enabling the monitoring of the disease and the development of several studies. Jaqueline Goes takes advantage of the repercussion to raise gender flags, valuing research and color, when she says that “Usually black women have little opportunity, they need to fight and try harder to be able to occupy the spaces”.

    Although women are becoming the majority in health, in general, occupying spaces of greater representativeness and notoriety, throughout the world they still receive consistently less than their male colleagues. Understanding that, through these examples and countless others not mentioned here, the competence of women in different specialties is undeniable, the point is, the need for efficient policies that reduce this inequality, a less prejudiced and more tolerant society, in addition to more opportunities for management positions, for example, to have their due recognition and consequently better conditions to exercise their profession with fair remuneration, are indispensable.

References

  • Warner, A Sofia, and Lisa Soleymani Lehmann. “Gender Wage Disparities in Medicine: Time to Close the Gap.” Journal of general internal medicine vol. 34,7 (2019): 1334-1336. doi:10.1007/s11606-019-04940-9.

About the author

Mariah Vicari Bolognani, a third-year medical student at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos – UNICEPLAC, in Brasilia, Brazil. Interested in the development of scientific research and production of academic articles. Involved in extension projects, academic leagues, voluntary projects and congresses in the health area. She is interested in music, books, fine arts, and is passionate about travel and getting to know new places. She always tries to reconcile academic and personal life, constantly seeking knowledge and professional development.

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