On International Women’s Day, and every day, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is helping women around the world by providing lifesaving medical care and speaking out to amplify the voices of our patients and staff.
Meet a few of the inspiring women we’re spotlighting on International Women's Day.
“We will not leave patients behind. And we will not be silent. Seeking or providing health care must not be a death sentence…. Make no mistake: We will relentlessly denounce attacks on health care. We will speak out loudly and with force about what we witness in the field.”
On May 3, 2016, Dr. Joanne Liu, MSF International President, addressed the United Nations Security Council with these powerful words. Following the bombing of numerous MSF hospitals and supported health facilities in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan, Joanne demanded that Security Council members pass a resolution to ensure the impartial provision of health care in conflict.
“You will be judged not on your words today but on your actions. Your work has only begun. Accountability begins with independent and impartial fact finding. Perpetrators cannot be investigators, judges, and juries.”
The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2286, yet to this day, attacks on hospitals, medical facilities, and health workers continue with impunity. So we continue to speak out and remind warring parties that patients, hospitals, and health care workers are #NotATarget.
“I’ve seen a lot of women in my life dying during delivery or after delivery because of PPH [post-partum hemorrhage] or a complication of delivery. And I’ve seen children growing without their mother. It’s really a very sad thing for me. I decided ... to become a midwife—and now, for the past 10 years, I’m working as a midwife and I’m really happy about this.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Aqila was first a patient in our maternity ward in Afghanistan and is now a midwife supervisor at the MSF hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi, Kabul.
“It’s not easy to for a girl to become a midwife…. Around Kabul it’s okay, but we have a lot of provinces where the security is not good, the women are not allowed to go outside the home. It’s not easy to go to get an education as a midwife, in midwifery. But we need more midwives.”
This is Poni Betty, the only female MSF mechanic. Poni has been working with us in South Sudan since 2015. She maintains our fleet of land cruisers that deliver medical care in remote areas.
“I’m encouraging ladies to join the mechanics. We women, we can do it. When I go home to my mum she says, ‘This is our girl…this is an engineer.’”