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Women in Surgery: Rosemary Mugwe

To celebrate International Women's Day 2023, we're featuring some of the amazing women we work with or alongside in the fight to increase global surgical capacity.

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?   

This is an inevitable challenge  women face . I have been remunerated less than my male peers for the same deliverables and when I raised the concern, I was told I didn’t negotiate like they did - which I did but didn’t yield fruit. 

The mistaken perception that women should earn less is real. As long as we don’t see women as equals, we  will be missing a lot. I felt my family responsibilities went unrecognised and trying to integrate all aspects of my life (work and family) was not easy without the support. I was prone to burn-outs.

What inspired you to follow your path?  

The thirst and drive to  positively influence the health agenda which calls for determination and persistence. I need my voice to be heard and that is likely possible while in a leadership position. 

I hold my destiny in my own hands. I believe we should stick to our truth,  stick to our path, raise our voices, and not let anyone sway or knock  off your vision.

How many women are in your team currently?

I believe women have the same capacity as their male counterparts and should get equal opportunities in employment. I have deliberately endeavoured to apply  equal gender segregated   ratio in addition to  merit while  participating in recruitment exercises. In my department women are more than the men.

What motivates you to keep working in the field?  

A world where there is equitable access to quality health services and care for all.

Has there been a female role model who has had an impact on your career? 

 I have a few role models. One of them is Mme Bineta Diop , Currently the special envoy of the chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace and Security. She is self-driven,  a formidable fighter of women’s rights and their empowerment. She has been instrumental in changing the laws and policies in Africa in favour of equality of women and men. In 2011, The times magazine declared her one of the most influential women  people in the  world.

What advice would you give to a young woman or girl who is looking to enter the medical profession? 

Have a vision,  perfect your skills , stay humble and keep moving forward. I wish  I knew the potential I have which I know now. The growth  would have been  easier.

How has your work affected your relationship with family and friends?

We need to address barriers constraining women to pursue leadership positions in health. Developing policies that support inclusion and supportive organisational cultures with well-defined career development paths for  all, equal training opportunities  I dare say that here is explicit bias in  the health industry.

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