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AFMW 2020-2021 Annual Report Released

2021 Annual Report now available to download

Thank you to all in attendance at the AGM

AFMW President, Dr Magdalena Simonis released the 2020-2021 Annual Report at the 06 November, 2021 Annual General Meeting.

Thank you to our patron, members, supporters, partners, sponsors and contributors throughout the year. 

View Annual Report (10mb pdf).

2020-2021 Annual Report AFMW

President’s Report

“This has been a very productive year for AFMW with numerous National Framework submissions, advocacy efforts, public speaking engagements, presentations and several projects initiated resulting in new working groups. It is also a great honour that Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM, has agreed to be our patron.

As I summarise this year’s activities, I would like to acknowledge the support and valuable contributions made by the amazing medical women who are on the AFMW Council.  We are a large team who work in diverse medical fields, and our collective experience has enriched our understanding of the problems we seek to tackle. This year AFMW has made an unprecedented number of submissions to National Strategic Health Plan reviews, and we have grasped every opportunity to introduce the gender lens, which would otherwise be overlooked. I thank the AFMW members and Council for responding to requests for input and feedback with rapid turnaround times, in the face of the ongoing challenges all of us have had to adapt to, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the start of my Presidency of AFMW in November of 2020, Australia had not yet decided which vaccine would first be approved, how cold chain vaccines could be efficiently distributed and administered and we anticipated that this next chapter in 2021 would bring some new freedoms for us all. It has been a very difficult time for us all, especially for Victorians, and we are emerging from this with many lessons learned.  We have realised that the whole planet is comprised of interconnected living systems which influence outcomes way beyond our own geography. COVID-19 has placed pressure on constructs requiring evidence-based interventions more than ever before and has shone the spotlight on the significance of scientific collaboration, academic partnerships, national and international political engagements, along with the rapid uptake and development of technology.

In light of this, the immediate establishment of a weekly AFMW eBulletin and commencement of our website overhaul, were necessary to keep our members up to date with COVID-19 developments.  AFMW engaged members and friends by hosting AFMW Open Forum webinars, which although no longer weekly, have become a permanent fixture. Eminent speakers are regularly invited to present at these sessions, providing opportunities to learn informally and remain in touch with each other across the country.  Some of the webinars are recorded with links added to our website, the first of these being the very successful AFMW UN CSW65 parallel session we hosted in March.

Each of the working groups has led to the formation of partnerships with organisations that share similar objects and have helped to deepen our knowledge, expand our reach and broaden our network. It is through such collaboration that our commitment to the Reconciliation Australia Plan has culminated in the development of the Uluru statement from the heart, a Bush Leaves Medicine bursary project which has issued three bursaries to Indigenous medical women and a commitment to have our reconciliation plan reviewed every three years.

Establishing the AFMW Climate Health Action Group (CHAG) with a permanent link on our new website, partnering with Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), participating on the Better Futures Forum Australia and contributing to the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) National Framework for a healthy, regenerative and just future, have given me great pleasure. Without a healthy planet, all else becomes redundant and it is important that AFMW advocates for this, as intensely as we do for other health issues.  I am also passionate about the need to engage women doctors in the digital health space and to address the gender disparity in this industry, and therefore established the Medical Women in Technology and Health (MedWiTH) working group. The digital health industry is one of the biggest industries and it is set to grow exponentially. Women doctors can bring the gender lens to the development of the systems that we and our patients interact with, and it is my hope that the partnerships with leaders in this sector external to AFMW that have now been established will flourish, and that AFMW members take advantage of the growing opportunities that exist and that we can assist with career progression at any stage of one’s life.  

Addressing gender inequity that exists by the omission of historical accounts of women in medicine is being addressed now also. Collecting the accounts of medical women’s personal journeys and sharing the lessons learned, is now an ongoing project called Herstory, which I am very happy to have launched. This evolved directly from the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) Mentoring and Leadership webinars I have coordinated and has now become an AFMW fixture. It is exciting and fascinating to learn about each other and now the discussions we have around how we decide on taking on a certain path in medicine and what our mentors shared with us, will be documented.

In summary, the AFMW friendship circle is growing and our reach is expanding across the sectors which cover gender equity, climate change advocacy, violence against women and girls, sexual and reproductive health, endometriosis, menopause, breast cancer, Indigenous health equity and suicide prevention, Reconciliation Plan, medical education, obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health, doctor well-being, COVID-19 communication in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities, promotion of COVID vaccination programs, the digital health sector, adolescent education, general practice workforce distribution, research on gender in medicine and gendered impacts of disease including COVID-19. The list demonstrates our agility in responding to issues as they arise, and others which are ongoing.

I am fortunate to be a member of this wonderful organisation and feel to honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead us through this chapter, as we continue the AFMW effort of striving towards achieving health equity for women, children and indeed all Australians.”


Magdalena Simonis
President, Australian Federation of Medical Women

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