Women Empowering inside Medical Schools

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fernanda Pacheco Mendes Coelho and Marcelle Rodrigues Carneiro de Souza Reis, two 3rd-year medical students at Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos – UNICEPLAC at Brasília, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

For a long time, women who practiced medicine were considered witches, satan’s daughters, pagan, and many were condemned to burn in a bonfire. In other words, in a world where higher education was primarily aimed at men, many women struggled hard to acquire their place in the education and labor market.

The increased participation of women in the medical profession is not recent; however, women’s inferiority and devaluation still happen, which motivated the creation of several groups that address comprehensive care to medical students to combat sexism in the medical environment.

In our medical school, we saw the need to create a safe space and some way to protect women when a rape occurred in one of our famous and traditional party (that happens every semester and reunites different colleges of medicine). Everyone in our college hid the rapist. This led us to create a feminist group called “Coletivo Agnodice”, inspired by Agnodice, a greek woman, that some may call it a myth but recognized as one of the firsts at medical arts. We got inspired by her to design all our social media and advocate on empowering women, showing they are not alone, and we are strong together. 

In this group, we provide lectures about feminism, women’s health, what is consent, and every other topic that we feel is needed between all the integrants (everyone is invited, even men, but only women show up normally). Allied to providing safe spaces of open discussion where we discuss topics that were sometimes taboos, leading to empower each other. Also, we share our experiences and beliefs, which brings a feeling of understanding and belonging. 

Furthermore, we teamed up with other feminists groups from other participant universities to create a movement called “Conte Comigo”, which translates to “count with me”, where a group of women and trusted men would give their numbers and stay in patrol to report and receive and complaints about every situation of abuse or if they felt uncomfortable with some person’s act. All these reports would be given to a security guard who would take that person off the party or any measure needed. This action had a lot of positive feedbacks, where women described that felt more safe having this backup there. Since then, we have been implementing this safe group in every huge party we have, even when it’s just leaving numbers to be called if something bad happens or the girl just wants to talk.

According to the information presented, it’s noted that feminist groups have struggled and managed to destroy barriers (direct and indirect) that stop women from ascending their careers on equal terms with men and building training spaces demarcated by sex. Accordingly, staying within the change gives women more access specialties and areas of greater prestige and remuneration.

1. Norman A. Healing History: The Story of Agnodice, a Woman Practicing Medicine in Ancient Greece [Internet]. Brewminate. 2017 [cited 26 September 2020]. Available from: https://brewminate.com/healing-history-the-story-of-agnodice-a-woman-practicing-medicine-in-ancient-greece/

2. A feminização da medicina no Brasil.

3. Formação das mulheres nas escolas de medicina.

About the authors

Fernanda Pacheco Mendes Coelho and Marcelle Rodrigues Carneiro de Souza Reis are 3rd-year medical students at Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos – UNICEPLAC at Brasília, Brazil. They are crazy about the research area, always trying to improve themselves. Marcelle is a member of IFMSA Brazil and is a fervorous feminist who loves to advocate for women’s rights whenever possible, even though it’s in the middle of a class. Fernanda is a vice director of a surgery plastic academic league, which is her passion because she loves how plastic surgery can transform people’s lives, returning their self-esteem.

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