Women's Mental Health Series - Introduction

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Mental HealthI am delighted to be writing for the MWF which I have found to be a safe, supportive place to grow and learn. Being a psychiatrist, a doctor and a woman has helped me appreciate the challenges of maintaining mental wellness. In this blog I am setting the scene for what I hope will be a tripartite series looking at the issues that affect women everywhere.

International Women’s Day March 8th 2015

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International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. International Women's Day celebrates women's achievements worldwide.International-Womens-Day

Despite much progress being made towards the welfare of women nowhere, in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the United Nations. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw population growth and rise of radical ideologies. The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19th in 1911 in Copenhagen.The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The

International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913 and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.

The United Nations drew global attention to women's concerns in 1975 by calling for an International Women's Year. The United Nations General Assembly then invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace in 1977. The day aimed to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women.

The International Women’s Day logo is in purple and white and features the symbol of Venus, which is also the symbol of being female. The colours are taken from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Great Britain who in 1908 adopted the colour scheme of purple, white and green to symbolise the plight of the Suffragette - purple symbolised dignity, white purity, and green hope.

International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike.

With greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one assumes that women have gained true equality. Unfortunately the fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business, politics and certain professions and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
Annually on 8th March, thousands of events are held worldwide to inspire women and celebrate achievements.

So how are you going to make a difference, think globally and act locally! Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.


Dr Beryl De Souza

Dr Clarissa Fabre - Report from the World Health Assembly 2014

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cropped clarissaLast week I attended the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, as the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA) representative to the WHO. Over the next 3 years, MWIA is planning to produce a Manual on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Affecting one in three women globally, this subject has received a great deal of publicity in the last year, especially from the WHO and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) read more here and here.

MWIA Northern European Regional Conference, Rungstedgaard, Denmark

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MWIA DenmarkThe 17th Northern European regional conference was hosted by Denmark, in the beautiful setting of Rungsted, halfway between Copenhagen and Helsingor, both easily accessible by train. Attendance of MWIA executive made this a truly multi-national meeting and MWF was represented by six members including Northern Regional Vice President, Helen Goodyear.

The main themes of the meeting were "women's health" and "violence against women", the latter in keeping with the triennial theme of MWIA. The speakers were all of a good standard and the topics presented often represented a different spin on common themes. For example, it was interesting to hear the role mentoring played helping foreign doctors integrate into the Danish system. Denmark appears to have a much more structured system for dealing with international graduates than the UK, an "advantage" of having a less commonly spoken language perhaps. Other presentations included a talk on setting up a drop-in clinic in Burma, the stresses involved in working in a warzone, and the different experiences of women and men undergoing medical education.

Clinical subjects discussed included a session on HIV and various gynaecological topics. President Elect Bettina Pfleiderer presented the results on the MWIA survey on domestic violence. This was accompanied by the results of an EU-wide survey into violence against women, both of which somewhat surprisingly flagged Scandinavia as having the highest reported incidence in Europe.

Socially the Conference dinner was held in Copenhagen, and full advantage was taken of the conference centre's proximity to the Karen Blixen Museum with a drinks reception and guided tour being held there.

Future MWIA meetings will be held in Vienna (2016) – the triennial meeting of MWIA, and the 18th Northern European Regional meeting will be in London (2017) to coincide with the centenary of MWF.

Dr Julie Rutter

MWIA National Co-ordinator, Consultant in Anasthetics, East Midlands

President's blog April 2014

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FE Cornish

As I write my last President's blog, I cannot think of anything that gives me more pleasure than to celebrate the election of so many women as Presidents of Royal Colleges. We congratulate Jane Dacre as President of the Royal College of Physicians and Suzy Lishman as President of the Royal College of Pathologists, both MWF members. We also congratulate Clare Marx as the first ever female President of the Royal College of Surgeons. It is fantastic for all our members to see how encouragement and support of women can achieve such success, even if it has taken such a long

I have enormously enjoyed my two years as President and would like to thank everyone for their support, hard work and dedication. I am delighted to hand over the Presidency to Sally Davies, and I look forward to my role as Past President.


Dr Fiona Cornish
MWF President 2012-2014
April 2014

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