President’s Report April 2010

This introduces the concept of Gender Mainstreaming. I personally also have trouble getting my head around what this means and what the implications are. Whilst no-one seems to want to be a ‘feminist’ these days, I think the recent data on pay-equity for Australian Women (or continuing significant disparity and the lack of improvement over 20 years…) indicates that we need to still at least consider that the playing field may not be as level as we wish to believe it is. Whilst many believe that organisations like AFMW are left over irrelevant relics of the past, who is going to assess the different implications for medical women (and medical men) of any planned policy action, including legislation and programmes, in all areas and levels? Despite the wish for it not to be so, differences along gender lines continue to exist within medicine, for whatever reasons. It is obvious from many fronts: how women and men conduct consultations, who chooses to see which for what clinical problem, which genders choose which specialties and where they will work – and how many hours they will work for at which stage of their life. Disparity is obvious by income (for the same work) and by occupation of senior positions in academia, clinical structures and management. AFMW exists to promote the professional development of medical women (as well as the promotion of Women’s and Childrens Health and the Health of all Australian!) and in the modern (or is it post-modern?) world it is becoming increasingly complex to both work out what might be required as well as solutions to problems that exist. I am looking for volunteers to help us think about this….

On a lighter note however, I will remind everyone that the MWIA International Triennial Congress will be held in July in Munster, Germany. Personally I am really looking forward to it, as it was attending the MWIA International Congress in Sydney in 2001 (when I submitted and had an abstract accepted without even realising it was a medical women’s event – long story!) that got me involved in MWIA/AFMW! The Congress was so exciting – an amazing diversity of women doctors for starters – from all sorts of amazingly interesting countries. The program was different to what I was used to as well, but the highlight had to be the privilege of meeting so many women who were doing such remarkable things in their countries – and especially the women working against the odds in a plethora of developing countries! Having been to that, I felt I had to join my local Medical Women’s Society and the rest is history! I can only say to people – if you have the chance – GO! And if you can’t go in 2010, aim to go in 3 years – or to one of the Regional Congresses! What is happening around the world can be found on the MWIA website: http://mwia.net. Your State subscription includes membership to MWIA, so why don’t you check out what it gets you?

Speaking of what it gets you, what MWIA does get 5 of us is registration to the UN’s the sixty-third United Nations Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/NGO) Conference. In case you haven’t heard, it will be held in Melbourne, Australia, from 30 August to 1 September 2010.

What is this? The United Nations DPI/NGO Conference is the premier non-governmental organization event at the United Nations.  It will be the first time Australia hosts a United Nations event of this size and only the third time that the DPI/NGO Conference has been held outside of United Nations Headquarters. MWIA is permitted to send 5 delegates to this event, and believe me, not just anyone can go!

Each year this Conference brings together hundreds of non-governmental organization representatives from around the world to focus on a topic of interest related to the work of civil society and non-governmental organizations in collaboration with the United Nations.  The 2009 Conference took place in Mexico City and focused on disarmament.

The 2010 Conference will focus on global health as it relates to the Millennium Development Goals, an issue of importance to both the Government of Australia and the non-governmental community. How lucky will those of us able to go be?

Health issues are central to the Millennium Development Goals, which have been internationally accepted as the road map for development.  Some of the key issues addressed by the Millennium Development Goals include Goal 4, reducing child mortality; Goal 5, improving maternal health; and Goal 6, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

The Conference will be organized in partnership between the United Nations Department of Public Information, the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and the Government of Australia.  A major aim of this year’s Conference is to attract participation from non-governmental organizations from the Pacific island States and other countries in Asia.

The United Nations DPI/NGO Conference will be a major event in the 2010 United Nations calendar and will occur only weeks prior to the start of the sixty-fifth United Nations General Assembly and an Millennium Development Goals Summit called for the occasion.

MWIA is allowed to send one Youth delegate to this event, and we have permission for this person to be a medical student from Australia. Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find out how you can apply to be in the running for this place, and for those who are eligible and able to go, I think you would be crazy not do leap at the chance – it may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity!

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