President's Message

It has certainly been a busy couple of months! 

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the recipients of the inaugural AFMW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Purple Bush Leaves Medicine Bursary: Ms Tia Gordon, Dr Kerby Siemsen, and Dr Sarah McEwan. Read more about the Bursary and these exceptional women here.

I’ve been proud to represent VMWS and medical women in general over the last couple of months at multiple conferences: 

The Generational Equality Forum, held in Paris from 30 June-2 July, was, in a word, awe-inspiring. I was amazed by the actions being taken by young women all over the world to accelerate gender equality. I came away from this conference both bolstered by these young peoples’ commitment to change, and inspired to push for change in my world as well. Certainly, us women in Australia are lucky in several ways, but we also have much, much more to do. If others can, why can’t we! Read a summary of the forum and the commitments made here.

The Defining Equity: Gender Equity Practice and Exchange Conference, organised by Gender Equity Victoria, held from 10-11 August, was a lively commentary and exchange of ideas in the gender equity space. Yes, we are lucky in several ways, but Australia remains woefully behind in gender equity when it comes to global standards. The Gender Equality Act came into effect earlier this year, with a mandate for organisations to develop a gender equality action plan; Iceland instituted this very legislation way back in 2008! Now more than ever, it is important to use a gendered, intersectional lens, bring more diverse voices to the table, and embed gender equity into policy and practice in order to break the structural inequities in the system that exacerbate the current inequalities that Australian women are facing. 

The AMA National Conference was held from 28-31 July. I was pleased to see significant bandwidth given to key issues that we are concerned with – ensuring diversity and inclusion within the medical workforce and medical leadership, acknowledging the importance of flexibility and responsiveness within the medical workforce, prioritising doctors’ health, and endorsing healthcare professional-led action when it comes to climate change.

Speaking of climate change, The Better Futures Australia Forum was a landmark event held from 17-19 August, bringing together stakeholders across industry sectors and communities to discuss and drive Australia’s climate action plan. Again, Australia lags behind significantly when it comes to global standards, scoring 0/15 in the Nationally Determined Contributions (country commitments to deliver the goal of the Paris Agreement). Argentina scored 11, by the way. Similarly to gender equity, climate health needs to be embedded into policy and practice, with diverse voices at the decision-making table. It is no longer sufficient to passively hope for change, it is no longer an option to be a bystander. As doctors, we both have a duty of care, and are also uniquely positioned to be a part of the push for change. As the WHO team leader for Climate Change and Health, Dr Campbell-Lendrum said, doctors are the most trusted professionals on earth. When we speak, people do listen, like it or not!

The MWIA Western Pacific Regional Conference, organised by the Korean Medical Women’s Association and held in Seoul, Korea, from 20-21 August, brought together delegates from the various countries within the Western Pacific region, from Taiwan to Australia, to discuss the role of medical women in the future. Sessions were held around the promotion of medical women into leadership positions and strategies to enable medical women to navigate their physical and mental health, life opportunities, and career trajectory successfully. As we move to live with COVID-19 in our midst as the new norm, and as we shift into a more virtual world, several speakers spoke about the need to embrace a new healthcare system – one with advances in medical technology, one with varied approaches in how we care for our patients. Certainly, it appears that medical women should be at the table when it comes to the digital transformation of healthcare. I came away from this conference with renewed vigour – VMWS will continue to advocate for the professional and personal needs of medical women.

Lastly, I’d like to extend warm (virtual) hugs to our colleagues in NSW who are dealing with the COVID19 outbreak. And also to my fellow Victorians in yet another lockdown. Hang in there! 

There is much to do, friends. Watch this space! As always, feel free to reach out to me via email, the VMWS Facebook or my personal Twitter @heymadhura.  

Warmest regards,

Madhura

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