International Women’s Day 2023

As we celebrate this year's International Women’s Day (IWD), we hear from some of our inspirational leaders about what gender equity means to them, their reflections of challenges of the past and hopes for the future.

Each year the College marks International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and to highlight some of the issues still facing women. Our IWD page on the website brings together all of our activities around this special day.

One of the themes this year is #EmbraceEquity. This calls on everyone to think about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, recognising that people start from different places, and that true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action. Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.

As part of our IWD celebrations, we heard from Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE and Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE (College Registrar) as they discussed the importance of equity for women in the mental health space in a two-part podcast.

In a blog post written to mark the day, Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer at Black Country and West Birmingham Integrated Care Board, said:

“It’s time to move past the rhetoric, from equality to equity or from intention to action. I see equity as the process of bringing equality to life.”

In a separate blog post, Dr Fabida Aria, Chair of the Transcultural SIG and Medical Director at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, reflected on the journey that womankind has been on and especially how far we still have to go, and says:

“I will always live with the awareness that my life is better than many women before my time. I owe it to all of them to be the best I can, no matter what.”

In a specially recorded video, Dr Elaine Lockhart, Chair of the RCPsych Child and Adolescent Faculty, encouraged us to also tackle inequity and inequality in our own homes, having open and honest conversations to encourage equal partnership in caring and home life and also says:

“We have an opportunity within RCPsych to work within our own organisation and with colleagues within the NHS, universities and funding bodies to achieve true equity for women and men to succeed on the basis of their expertise, commitment and hard work.”

We shared our concerns that women are suffering in silence, and called on healthcare professionals, and the public, not to make assumptions that women or girls feel confident talking about their mental health.

We also ran a member webinar on sexual harassment, hosted by the Women and Mental Health Special Interest Group. The session, chaired by President-elect Dr Lade Smith, who will soon take up her role as the first Black woman president of RCPsych and any Medical Royal College, attracted over 250 participants.

It considered sexual harassment, one of the biggest issues still facing women today which remains a major issue for our workforce, has serious implications on health and wellbeing, recruitment and retention and the Gender Pay Gap.

We reinforced our commitment to ending sexism in medicine by signing up to the BMA pledge to end sexism in medicine this week.

While there’s much to celebrate, there’s still much more to do.

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