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Celebrating Women in Surgery: Dr Zaituni Bokhari


Dr Zaituni Bokhari is a Paediatric Surgeon in Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania, where KidsOR installed two Operating Rooms in 2017. To celebrate International Women's Day 2022, we profiled remarkable women in surgery who are an inspiration, who break barriers, and who are at the top of their field. 

Women are extremely underrepresented in surgery and anaesthesia departments across the globe. How many women do you usually work with in your unit/department? 

In the children’s department, we are 9 female surgeons, 5 from paediatric surgery unit, among those 4 surgeons are registrar and the rest specialists.

What are some of the challenges, if any, you’ve experienced as a female surgeon?   

As a female surgeon, the biggest challenge I have experienced is being misinterpreted because I hold the title of being a “female”. For the longest time, most people have looked at females as people below males, but I believe we are just as powerful and capable. But if you ask most, this type of field is mostly male dominated and it’s time that changed and us, female surgeons, should be recognized.

What advice would you give to your younger self when you started your medical career/ studies?  

Advice to my younger self would be to push just as hard as I was pushing, because the outcome is worth it. My younger self was chasing a dream, trying to accomplish my career, day by day. And this all has brought me here today to be one of the best female surgeons. And if my younger self would see me now, I know that she would be filled with happiness seeing how far I’ve come. I would tell my younger self to keep pushing as hard but the slight difference would have to be, adding a smile on my face because the coming outcomes are really pleasing.

What motivates you to keep on working in your field? 

What motivates me to keep working in my field is the thought of saving someone’s life, seeing how relieved my patients facial expressions relaxes after telling them it’s all going to be okay. Seeing how grateful people get after good news being brought upon them and most importantly seeing how happy kids get after a few weeks or months of operating on them to their purest form, knowing they are our future savers.

Do you have a female role model in your field?   

I wouldn’t say I have “a” female role model, but rather I have female “models” in my field. The women that I work with in my field are my role models. I learn from them. I respect them and value them as well.

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