Women in Surgery: Dr. Sila Monthe
To celebrate International Women's Day 2023, we profiled remarkable women in surgery who are an inspiration, who break barriers, and who are at the top of their field.
Was there a time in your career where you felt you weren’t being given the support or resources you were looking for due to being a woman?
No. I have been privileged to work for mostly feminist organizations. This has shown me what is possible when we try to level the playing ground so that everyone can participate. I have been mentored, encouraged to take on more responsibilities by my seniors and colleagues since I started working. However, I am cognizant that I am one of few and I would like to change that through mentorship of the women I work with. I believe that representation matters, especially to younger generation of doctors.
With women typically underrepresented in surgical departments,or leadership positions what inspired you to follow your path?
At first, I was seeking for a challenging opportunity that would help me grow. I had also felt frustrated by systems that did not serve patients and led to needless suffering. I wanted to be part of the people providing the solutions. Leadership seemed to be the next logical step. My dream is to deliver, the reality is universal health coverage in Kenya.
How many women are in your team currently?
Its close to even. They are give the same opportunities as men. However, they are plagued with much more self-doubt than men and sometimes this holds them back.
What motivates you to keep working in the field?
The people I serve. I chose to come to work with vulnerable populations. I keep choosing to remain in the field because, I can see the impact of what I do on the people I serve.
Has there been a female role model who has had an impact on your career?
Dr. Frida Bosire. She was a surgery resident I interacted with during my internship. She absolutely loved teaching, and mentoring the interns. She was patient and kind and one of the best surgeons I know. She made me realize that leadership can be different.
What advice would you give to a young woman or girl who is looking to enter a leadership position?
If you are not making mistakes, you are not doing something new. Done is better than perfect.
How has your work affected your relationship with family and friends?
While I am away from my family for significant periods, the bonds have become tighter. The work we do can be overwhelming without the appropriate support mechanisms. Working so far away from home in Kakuma Refugee Camp has not been easy, especially when family is taken ill or celebrating a major life event.