Medical students and their ability to edify women’s rights

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Luísa Eugênio Farias, 22 years old, a first year medical student at UNICESUMAR, located in Maringá, Brazil. She is 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The number of men and women in the world is roughly equal, though men hold a slight lead with 102 men for 100 women (in 2020). More precisely, out of 1,000 people, 504 are men (50.4%) and 496 are women (49.6%). Despite this fact, women’s rights have historically been reduced and subdued over time. The Brazilian Constitution of 1934 enshrined, for the first time, the principle of equality between the sexes. So less than a hundred years ago women where legally considered inferior to men in Brazil.

In Brazilian medical schools, women are a majority, according to the Brazilian Federal Medical Council (“Conselho Federal de Medicina” in Portuguese, hereinafter “CFM”) and they have the capacity to help future female patients to understand their rights. The Doctor-Patient Relationship goes beyond asking questions and prescribing medications and exams. Medical women have great potential to be able to talk openly about social taboo subjects with their patients and make medical consult a less intimidating moment.

Medical students can, during the course, learn about women’s rights and how to exercise them. Unfortunately, many women do not know their own rights, especially those with less education. Their role is to prepare to be able to help women from the very first contact. In addition to medical knowledge, empathy and understanding of the laws are fundamental to the formation of a good doctor. Medical students have the potential of closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights by explaining them in the medical consult.

The popular Law “Maria da Penha’ (Law 11.340 / 2006) is recognized by the ONU as one of the three best legislations in the world in the fight against violence against women. It resulted from a historic struggle by feminist and women’s movements for legislation against impunity in the national scenario of domestic and family violence against women. Even though the law is very famous, not all Brazilian women know their rights in the event of violence. Medical students, knowing about this law, are able to guide victims and, consequently, save lives. Considering students who are also women, they also have a facility to talk more openly about the subject with their patients because they are of the same gender.

Therefore, medical students have the potential of closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights, especially female medical students, by helping patients to understand the laws and their rights.


AVILA, Rebeca Contrera. Formação das mulheres nas escolas de medicina. Rev. bras. educ. med.,  Rio de Janeiro ,  v. 38, n. 1, p. 142-149,  Mar.  2014 .   Access on  23  Sept.  2020.

COSTA, Fabrício Donizete da; AZEVEDO, Renata Cruz Soares de. Empatia, relação médico-paciente e formação em medicina: um olhar qualitativo. Rev. bras. educ. med.,  Rio de Janeiro ,  v. 34, n. 2, p. 261-269,  June  2010 . Access on  23  Sept.  2020. 

About the author

Luísa Eugênio Farias, 22 years old, is a first year medical student at UNICESUMAR, located in Maringá, Brazil. She is a member of the Academic League of Family and Community Medicine and member of the Maringaense Academic League of Pneumology. Luísa is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).  Born in Rio de Janeiro, she moved to Maringá to study to become a doctor.

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