“It had been less than a year as a nurse at the National Referral Hospital when the pandemic started. The transition was drastic. We were given intensive care training, taught to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and sent off to the COVID wards. Honestly, it was scary. The virus was new and dangerously spreading fast. During my studies, I had done my clinical practice at the hospital so it had felt familiar when I started working there. But now it was completely different. With the PPE, those of us with longer hair had to tie it up all the time. It was restricting, especially combined with the anxiety of being a fairly new nurse on the frontlines. On one of my first shifts in the pandemic, I even cried. But things did get better. We fell into a good routine. We would help clean the wards and check on our patients. We stayed away from home for two weeks each time our shift came around.

Leadership doesn’t always need to be interpersonal. After the change in the hospital system due to the pandemic, everyone had to become leaders of their own selves to adapt. I, too, learnt to take on my individual role and do what I needed to do. I had to work harder, put in extra effort and consciously work to spread awareness. Years ago, it was my elder brother who is a monk who’d inspired me to take up medicine. He’d said that I wouldn’t need to go the extra mile to earn good merits. That I’d do it every day when I helped patients. I take this opportunity that I have to help people with utmost sincerity. I also believe that being a woman helps me be a better nurse. It gives me the ability to understand and empathise with my patients’ problems better. I think that this past year, it has been proven that there really is nothing that women can’t do. We have worked hard with enthusiasm and sincerity as frontliners. Women have really risen to the challenge during this pandemic, and I do believe that we will continue to, in all aspects. We can all be leaders in our own capacities, big or small, taking on our responsibilities – our gyenkhu – matters.”

This International Women’s Day, we thank the women who took the most crucial roles of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In their own capacities as front-liners, political leaders, mothers, business-women, and social workers among others, women have shown great strength, resilience and zeal to fight against the pandemic.
Humans of Thimphu thanks every woman and sends our appreciation and respects.

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