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Celebrate Female Leadership in Anaesthesia this International Women’s Day 2024

With ‘Inspire Inclusion’ as the theme of International Women’s Day 2024, we asked WFSA women in leadership positions how we can encourage, support and inspire women into decision-making roles in the anaesthesia profession

Daniela Filipescu (Romania)

WFSA President

We are decision-makers in everyday life when we care for our patients, so we must upscale our team working capabilities beyond the operating room, and engage in global and planetary health.

The best way to engage women is through role models, mentorship, sponsorship and educational tools – engaged women will improve the profession of anaesthesia in terms of patient safety, professional wellbeing, equity and equality.

For me, inclusion means an anaesthesia workforce that broadly reflects the local community in which we operate, avoiding all forms of discrimination in workforce recruitment and encouraging individuals to develop and maximise their potential.

Carolina Haylock-Loor (Honduras)

WFSA President-Elect

We can strengthen women in anaesthesia leadership through several initiatives. We can foster a supportive and inclusive working environment where women feel empowered to pursue leadership roles.

We can implement mentorship programmes to support the development of female anaesthesiologists and provide them with opportunities for advancement in their careers, and we can promote diversity, recruitment and selection processes to ensure equal representation of women in leadership positions.

We can also offer leadership training and development programmes specially tailored to the needs of female anaesthesiologists – for example, at WFSA we have the Global Mentoring Programme, available for all members.

We can advocate for policies that support work-life balance and flexibility, such as parental leave and flexible scheduling to accommodate the needs of women in leadership roles. We also need to address biases in decision-making to ensure fair opportunities for women in leadership positions.

Last but not least, we encourage networking to build support and connections for women anaesthesiologists aspiring to leadership roles

Fauzia Khan (Pakistan)

Chair of the WFSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

It’s International Women’s Day again. The new WFSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee had one of its first physical meetings earlier this week.

One of the issues pointed out by many members from both High-Income Countries and Low and Middle-Income Countries was the number of female medical students, though large, is not reflected in the number of leadership positions leading to a gender imbalance.

This is true for anaesthesiology as well. We need to look into the reasons behind this inequity and recommend solutions.

Emilia Guasch (Spain)

Chair of Obstetrics Anaesthesia Committee

Anaesthesia can be inclusive of women by having achievements and appointments recognised when women achieve them. More than 50% of our anaesthesia workforce are women, but this isn’t recognised in leadership positions.

We need examples of role models in current leadership, and we need to celebrate and recognise them.

Patricia Yazbeck (Lebanon)

WFSA Council Member for Africa & Middle East

I strongly believe in the importance and added value of the inclusion of women, not only in the anaesthesia workforce but also in academic and leadership positions.

This is why I use my career and my leadership role in anaesthesia to support them, empower them, and offer them all the opportunities they need to advance in their career.

Bisola Onajin-Obembe (Nigeria)

President of the G4 Alliance Permanent Council

I inspire women by reaching out to them, valuing them, and communicating with them. That’s the only way they can feel comfortable to participate and be included.

There’s no point in just saying ‘we’re not hearing the voices of women,’ I think we leaders – female leaders – need to make friends at all levels, reach out to these friends and ensure they feel comfortable. That way, they feel valued and welcomed

More about the G4 Alliance

Elizabeth Nwasor (Nigeria)

WFSA Council Member for Africa & Middle East

As a leader in anaesthesia at WFSA, I can say WFSA is inclusive of women. But we can do better. How can we improve gender inclusiveness?

Well, we can be purposeful about it, we can create awareness, and we can have an agenda. The WFSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee can work on this: we can be proactive in identifying potential champions and female leaders who can take on leadership roles and responsibilities. We can mentor others, so those mentees can take on leadership roles in the future.

Inclusivity for women isn’t just a task for women. Everybody needs to be aware, and we need to include inclusivity not just in the workplace but in our normal social activities, way of life, family life and practices.

Elizabeth Drum (USA)

WFSA Council Member for North America and Canada

We all have had people who inspired and encouraged us in our journey to become anesthesiologists.  And most of us, even if we don’t realize it, have been a source of inspiration and motivation for others. 

I count several former and current women leaders of WFSA among those who have inspired me.  My goal is to use my time and talents to “pay it forward” and encourage the next generation of fabulous women leaders in anesthesiology.

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