We are delighted to announce that Dr Clarissa Fabre has been elected President-Elect of the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA).
Clarissa has a long history with MWF, joining as a member shortly after the birth of her first child. She then went on to be Honorary Secretary from 2004-2007, Vice-President from 2008-2009, President-Elect in 2010 and served as President of MWF from 2010-2012.
You can read the speech that led her to victory below.
Good afternoon to you all.
It is a great honour to be here today as a candidate for president-elect.
As we approach our centenary, we must celebrate the tremendous achievements we have made. We should be grateful to the women who came before us for the benefits we enjoy. As a woman, as a practising family physician, as a mother of two daughters both of whom are doctors, I am constantly reminded of it.
Yet there is still much to do.
I have been in touch with all our national presidents and national co-ordinators to find out their particular concerns and priorities. I received many replies and they have helped me to plan the way ahead.
There are three broad areas for our work together.
Firstly, Violence against women and girls, and the related issues of elder abuse and child sexual abuse.
In spite of many studies and many high sounding and optimistic resolutions, the incidence in all countries has not decreased, and remains at one in three women globally.
I shall focus my presidency on what we as doctors can do, and I shall focus also on the critical issue of prevention.
Up to now doctors have played a peripheral role. And yet we are often the first point of contact for these women. We must ensure that doctors and medical students are trained in detection of violence, and on appropriate referral pathways.
We must be involved in discussions at the highest level of Government.
And with regard to prevention, we need to begin with boys and girls in schools, to change cultural attitudes.
My second area concerns international Partnerships
Partnerships can greatly strengthen the influence and impact of MWIA. As your representative to the World Health Organisation for the last 4 years, I have formed relationships with key people.
In the last year, WHO has produced excellent handbooks in the area of Violence, including a clinical handbook, medico-legal frameworks, a curriculum for medical students, handbooks for in-service training for medical professionals, and guidance for managers.
With our large network in over 70 countries, we are in an excellent position to spread the use of these handbooks around the world.
WHO has greatly welcomed our support.
We can also work with the WHO on their Safe Childbirth Checklist.
This checklist is a simple and practical tool to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality. Through my connections at the WHO, one of our members, Dr Rosemary Ogu, led a pilot scheme on the Checklist in several centres in Nigeria, and plans to spread its use throughout the country.
We can all be proud that MWIA were acknowledged in the official Implementation Guide.
As your President I shall lead us to spread its use worldwide, in both low and high income countries.
I would like also to mention partnerships in the area of education.
We know that education is one of the best ways to lift women out of poverty and to fight against violence and abuse. MWIA need to promote it at every opportunity.
One remarkably simple and practical way we can help young girls is to support the organizations which distribute sanitary pads to low income countries. This will ensure that young girls do not miss school on a monthly basis during menstruation, which is what is happening at present.
The third broad area of my presidency will focus on women doctors’ career development and return to work after having children.
In many countries women make up more than 50% of medical students, but far fewer reach the top positions. What is the problem?
As president of the U.K Medical Women's Federation I became well aware of these important issues by working on leadership, mentoring, empowering, and flexible training to support childcare and work-life balance.
Women are here to stay in medicine
Most women want to have babies
Society wants women to have babies
We must put in place structures which facilitate both career development and good motherhood.
At the same time we must be strong, and never shrink from doing our share.
On a personal note, I would like to offer a tribute to Dr Dorothy Ward who sadly passed away 2 years ago. I am sure many of you remember her well. She was a former president of MWIA, and she was a wonderful role model for me throughout my career. She would have loved the fact that I am standing here today.
Madame Chair, fellow members
If elected, I look forward to working with our new President, Professor Bettina Pfleiderer, in particular to complete the projects which we have started together.
I look forward to our wonderful Centenary celebrations in 2019. As Chair of the Finance Committee, I shall do all I can to raise funds so that we shall have a celebration to remember.
As President, I am confident that I can provide leadership so that together we can make a difference.
I would be thrilled if you gave me that opportunity.
29th July 2016
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