AFMW President’s Report and e-Newsletter April 2009

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On a more positive note March saw the lifting of the AUSAid Guidelines which restricted family planning information and contraceptives within AUSAid funded programs. Details of this and many other items of interest are included in the links below.

AFMW is formulating resources to support each medical women’s society and is keen to support the reconstitution of medical women’s societies in inactive states. To this end each active state (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and Victoria) is buddying an inactive state (Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania). We will be providing support to medical women in establishing local groups and activities, not only through advice and mentoring but by providing the administrative tools required. To seek assistance for your state or to get involved please contact AFMW (afmw@afmw.org.au).

The National Human Rights Consultation is now underway. Of great importance to us is the New National Women’s Health Policy: Consultation Discussion Paper 2009 – DoHA, launched March 12th 2009. The discussion paper is to encourage discussions between the Government, key women’s health groups, welfare groups and the Australian public on the make-up of a new National Women’s Health policy. In developing the new policy, the Government is seeking submissions from today’s roundtable participants and will encourage other organisations such as health service providers or advocacy groups to make submissions. For more information please visit: http://www.cnet.ngo.net.au/content/view/41316/473/

These discussions and consultations are part of AFMW’s raison d’etre and we are looking for volunteers to contribute by following the debates, writing letters and submissions and lobbying government. If the direction the Government is taking the ‘Birthing Debate’ is anything to go by, we have a responsibility to speak up and be involved, as otherwise important policies may be based on less diverse ideological opinons than ours. AFMW is different to say RANZCOG, in that we can present ourselves as women as well as doctors, and we can be a counterbalance to the gendered approach used by many midwifery and home-birth advocates, where the assumptions still seems to be that the ‘controlling obstetrician’ is male – despite RANZCOG graduating 60% females now for many years.

We need your assistance to advocate effectively, so please contact us at afmw@afmw.org.au to volunteer to help.

Review of the AusAID family planning guidelines
I am pleased to report that on March 10 the Australian Government announced their review of the AusAID family planning guidelines, a move that we anticipate will reduce maternal and child mortality by reducing barriers to women’s access to information on sexual and reproductive health. Minister for Overseas Aid Stephen Smith made a media release on March 10 which included details of the adverse impact of the 1996 Family Planning Guidelines and the health improvements likely to result from availability of universal family planning.

AFMW website survey and prizes
The AFMW website has undergone significant redevelopment and we are seeking your feedback and suggestions for the future! Please click on this link to let us know what you think and how we can make the website more useful to you. As thanks for your participation we will give one respondent from each state medical women’s society a prestige prize valued at over $300 from Jan Marini Skin Research, consisting of the Jan Marini Skin Research products Bioglycolic Facial Cleanser, Age Intervention Peptide Extreme and Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant, along with a complimentary skin consult.

AFMW website skills training guide & practice website
We now have two new tools available to medical women who are interested in improving their website skills and learning how to upload information on a website. The first is an e-Book guide that explains the process step-by-step using screenshots to show the reader what she needs to do. The second tool is a test website that is hidden from the general public but which is a mirror of the true AFMW website. To request a copy of the guide and administrative access to the test website please email afmw@afmw.org.au.

National Human Rights Consultation underway
Are you interested in participating in the Australian National Human Rights Consultation? The Consultation aims to determine which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted, and to ask: How could Australia do better? Click here to read more information at the AFMW website. 

UNIFEM Australia Young Women’s Leadership Forum, Sydney May 22-24
The UNIFEM Australia Young Women’s Leadership Forum aims to improve the capacity of young women by providing them with opportunities to learn about and become involved in women’s issues on a local, national and global scale. The Forum seeks to empower, engage and educate young women to contribute to meaningful change in gender issues. Read more…

Yours sincerely,
Desiree

Dr Desiree Yap
President
Australian Federation of Medical Women

Recent articles from the AFMW website

MWIA and International Women’s Day
On International Women’s Day Reuters UK featured an article by MWIA Secretary General Dr Shelley Ross, titled “Confronting medical issues for women”. What are the medical issues currently facing women and are things as good as they are going to get for women? To read Dr Ross’ article please click here.

Dr Jillian Tomlinson wins Leadership Achievement Award
AFMW wishes to congratulate Dr Jillian Tomlinson who has been announced as the Winner of the 2009 Centre for Leadership for Women Leadership Achievement Award for her work on the Bridging Leadership Barriers Project. The Centre for Leadership for Women released the following Press Release today to coincide with International Women’s Day… (read more)

Birth Trends and Pregnancy Complications among Women Urologists
This article, published by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, reports on a recent study that set out to assess the childbearing differences between the average woman and the female urologist. The study found that the female specialists had a higher rate of childbirth complications and were 10 times more likely to use assisted reproductive technology. Are the expectations on female doctors placing their health and childbearing status at risk?

Australia ranked 21 in the Global Gender Gap Index
The Global Gender Gap Index was introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 and is a framework or capturing the magnitude and scope of gender based inequalities around the world. Australia currently ranks at 21 on the overall global list – but at only 73 in the subcategory of “Health and Survival”. Will Australia‘s recent gains for women in education, economic participation and political empowerment lead to improvements in health in the coming years? Download the latest report here to find out more.

Surgical Pocket Mentor updated for 2009
The Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) has updated its Pocket Mentor for 2009. This handbook for surgical trainees was developed to ease the transition from medical student to trainee to surgeon. Based upon the experiences of a number of women surgeons and written by the members of AWS, this resource is intended to make your passage a bit easier than it was for them. Click here to download the 2009 AWS Pocket Mentor.

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons
A Global Report on Trafficking in Persons launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides new information on a crime that shames us all. According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.

Sisters on the planet: from Oxfam Australia
While climate change affects everyone, it’s having a bigger impact on people in developing countries, and it’s hitting women hardest. Oxfam Australia and Make Poverty History are highlighting this issue through a series of short films, Sisters on the Planet, in which six women from different parts of the globe (Australia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Uganda, England and Brazil) share their stories of climate change and what they are doing to deal with the challenge. To view the short films or to take action visit http://www.oxfam.org.au/sisters

Join the AFMW Leadership Skills Database
AFMW encourages all Australian medical women to join the AFMW Leadership Skills Database, through which we aim to increase the strength of women’s voices in public health policy development and service delivery. To read further details about the database please download the application form by clicking here.

10 reasons to prevent child abuse
1. Child abuse can be fatal…

Australia increases support to UNIFEM

Australia will provide more than $17 million to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) as part of our international commitment to advancing greater equality between men and women.This funding over four years will support UNIFEM’s work in over 100 countries to reduce women’s poverty and exclusion; end violence against women; reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and support women’s leadership in governance and post-conflict reconstruction.

30% tax rebates through the business stimulus package
As part of the Government’s business stimulus package all small business related capital purchases over $1000 completed between 13th December 2008 and 30th June 2009 qualify for a 30% tax rebate on the business component of the item. This also applies to passenger motor vehicles, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to anyone who is contemplating the purchase of a new car or other business related capital purchase. Speak to your financial advisor to see if you are eligible or contact the Australasian Vehicle Buying Service to learn more. (AFMW provides information about this offer in good faith; AFMW makes no representation expressed or implied regarding services provided by AVBS).

Australian Federation of Medical Women
The voice of Australian medical women
http://afmw.org.au
afmw@afmw.org.au

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