International Women’s Day at the Women and Children’s Clinic – the focus on a fairer world

Published 8th March 2019

Claire, Women’s and Children’s Health Lead

The first organized Women’s Day was held in 1909 in the United States. In 1914, we saw the first march in support of women’s right to vote in London. In the following years, many other countries started to celebrate women’s contributions to society. In 1975 the United Nations started to celebrate International Women’s Day, proclaiming March 8th the day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.

Over time, International Women’s Day has shifted its focus, drawing attention to the hardships women endure in different places around the world, to women’s right to vote, to women’s contributions to society and their extraordinary accomplishments. Every year the theme of IWD changes, and this year we celebrate and call for action for a fairer, more gender-balanced world (#BalanceforBetter).

From a medical perspective, being a woman can have a significant impact on health. This is due to biological factors, but also due to gender related factors. Internationally, the health of women and girls continues to be particularly concerning as they are often discriminated against because of their gender.

Doctors of the World envisage a world without barriers to health, where healthcare is recognised as a fundamental right, for all.

On International Women’s Day, I want to take this opportunity to highlight our work with women in the UK.

Doctors of the World opened its London clinic in 2006, and has run with a special Family Clinic since 2014. Today, it has evolved into our beloved Women and Children’s Clinic, which runs on a weekly basis.

We recognise women and children have very specific vulnerabilities, and those increase when they have no clear legal status. They are more likely to be victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse, including female genital mutilation. It is also very challenging for these women to seek antenatal and maternity care when they are pregnant. In our clinic, we take the time to assess their personal situation and we work to support them as much as we can. We aim to empower the people we see, providing them with the knowledge and tools to advocate for themselves, so they may improve their personal and their children’s situation where possible and improve their general health.

I am proud to be able to be part of Doctors of the World and I am proud of what Doctors of the World continues to achieve nationally and internationally, standing up for social justice.  In my current role I feel very privileged to be able to support the women we see in our clinic and to continue improving the care we provide.

Seeing the women and children leave our clinic with a renewed smile, reminds me every time on how valuable our work is. We will continue to speak up for those who cannot and to fight for universal and fair access to health care.

With your support, Doctors of the World will make sure nobody suffers or dies due to lack of access to healthcare.