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Patricia Danzi, the former Olympic athlete who heads the Swiss development agency

Patricia Danzi started work as the first female head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in May 2020.

This content was published on March 11, 2022 - 09:00
SRF/swissinfo

From Bern to Bosnia, this 2021 documentary by Swiss public television, SRF, follows her in her challenging daily work which has been dominated by the health crisis.

Danzi was chosen for her personal and professional skills in many different areas. She was appointed director general of the SDC after spending 25 years of her professional life working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) around the world.

The film shows Danzi on her first SDC field trip to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo – the location of her first ICRC mission as a young delegate.

The 53-year-old humanitarian is a former elite athlete, who represented Switzerland in the heptathlon at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. She also speaks seven languages.

Danzi holds Swiss and Nigerian citizenship. She says she inherited her diplomatic skills from her father, who studied law at the University of Fribourg, and her humanitarian commitment from her mother, who was a secondary school teacher.

“I have a lot of energy and passion. It’s in my blood,” she says. “We can’t just say these things are none of our business… Doing nothing is not an option.”

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