The Medical Women’s Association of Pakistan (MWAP), in collaboration with Gujranwala Medical College (GMC), hosted special celebrations in honor of International Women’s Day. This global occasion, observed on March 8th, aims to highlight women’s rights and acknowledge women’s valuable roles in society.

During the Women’s Day event, Central Asia’s Vice President, Dr. Darunee Bhuddari, and President of AMWI, Dr. Mandakini Meigh, who joined virtually, stressed the need for collaboration and assured support to help women health professionals thrive as leaders. Dr. Wajiha Rizwan, MWAP President, discussed the journey of MWAP as the first Women Health Professionals’ Association in Pakistan and acknowledged the support of MWIA in this regard. Prof. Shamsa Humayun, Senior Vice President, discussed pressing issues faced by women in Pakistan, while Prof. Saira Afzal, Director of Students’ Affairs, delivered an inspiring talk on shattering the glass ceiling for women leaders in medicine. Dr. Ayesha Zaheer, Director of the Counselling Cell, Dr. Saba Saleem, Executive member, and Dr. Rabia Wajid, Treasurer, also addressed the audience on Women’s Day. Dr. Khadija Muneer, the General Secretary of MWAP moderated the session skillfully, steering the discussion towards the crucial theme of inclusion.

During the International Women’s Day event, MWAP decided to acknowledge the successes of women leaders in health. The following honors were awarded:

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Prof. Dr. Atiya Mubarak Khalid, who has been the first project director of GMC and also the chairperson of Punjab Health Commission.

The Award of “Impactful Health Leader (2023)” was given to the following women leaders based on their exceptional contributions in the health sector:

Sindh: Professor Sadiah Ahsan Pal, Professor Nusrat Shah, and Professor Saba Sohail.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Professor Salma Aslam Kundi.

Islamabad: Professor Sumera Badar Ehsan.

Punjab: Professor Shireen Khawar, Dr. Shehla Javaid Akram, Professor Tayyiba Wasim, Professor Saleema Qaisra, Professor Hina Ayesha, and Dr. Kauser Aftab Khan.

Balochistan: Prof. Aisha Siddiqa.
Mrs. Sophia Waraich, founder of the Al-Marah Foundation, was also awarded the Women Leader Award for her services for orphans.
MWAP expresses deep gratitude to the Principal of GMC, Professor Iqbal Dogar, for his enthusiastic support in organizing such an energetic event.

Activities in different regions

(i) Punjab

Seminar: Empowering Mothers for Future Generations
MWAP organized a seminar entitled “Empowering Mothers for Future Generations” at the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on February 15, 2024. The seminar was graced by the presence of esteemed guests, including Mr. Amer Majeed Sheikh, Vice President of SCCI, Prof. Haroon Hameed, Principal of Khawaja Muhammad Safdar Medical College Sialkot, Dr. Wajiha Rizwan, President of MWAP, Mrs. Gulzeb Waqas Awan, Senior Vice President of Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sialkot (WCCIS), MPA Miss Shakila, Mrs. Sunila Faisal, Prof. Sumaira, Dr. Urfa, Dr. Ayesha, Dr. Shazia, Dr. Reena, and a plethora of female students and social workers.

During her address at the seminar, MWAP President Dr. Wajiha Rizwan emphasized the organization’s unwavering support for initiatives aimed at women’s empowerment. She stated, “We stand by every woman who possesses the desire and courage to lead. Let’s rally together and encourage one another.”

(ii) Gilgit- Baltistan

Dr. Saima Kiran, the Director of Gilgit-Baltistan, orchestrated a successful free medical camp on February 10, 2024, catering to women and children from an underprivileged village, Chilmisdas, in Gilgit. This initiative was made possible through collaboration with a local welfare organization. Multiple pharmaceutical companies generously sponsored the camp, providing essential medicines to approximately 200 women and children.
This medical camp marks the inaugural event in a series of planned initiatives aimed at providing healthcare to remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, which lack adequate medical facilities.

(iii) Sindh
Cervical cancer awareness seminar
Dr. Haleema Yasmin, the Director of Sindh for MWAP, organized a seminar focusing on raising awareness of cervical cancer at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) within the Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) Obstetrics and Gynecology department. The seminar featured speakers including Dr. Aliya Aziz, Dr. Saba Khan, Dr. Humaira Aziz, Dr. Tahira Yasmin, and Dr. Falak Naz.

The emphasis of the seminar was on primary prevention through vaccination and secondary prevention via universal screening services. Moreover, the discussion and demonstration included low-cost options like Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA).

Other Activities:
The “Women’s Health Heroes” national video contest was overseen by Prof. Aisha Sajid, Director of Punjab, and Dr. Komal, Director of Media. The contest showcased the inspiring journeys of women health professionals through video submissions. Sahiwal Medical College secured the first position, while renowned gastroenterologist Prof. Lubna Kamani claimed the second position.

MWAP actively spearheaded a social media awareness campaign to advocate for polio vaccination during the national polio vaccine campaign.

MWAP wholeheartedly supports student activities, advocating for academic, research, and co-curricular endeavors initiated and led by students themselves. Prof. Saira Afzal, in her role as Director of Student Affairs, has been deeply involved in championing student rights. She has also actively promoted community-based medical education, co-hosting a seminar at KEMU alongside Prof. Nazish Imran and the Academy of Family Physicians of Pakistan. Additionally, she has conducted online lectures for Afghan female medical students and volunteered for daily Iftar drives aimed at providing sustenance to underprivileged communities, particularly women and girls.

Prof. Saima Batool, Director of Continuous Professional Development, spearheaded a series of webinars covering diverse topics. These sessions were open not only to all members of MWAP but a special invitation was also extended to Afghan female students. Notable webinars included one led by Dr. Noor I Kiran, Director of Innovation and Technology, focusing on the utilization of Artificial Intelligence in research.
MWAP collaborated with MD International, Canada, to organize a webinar entitled “Pathways to Medicine in Canada,” featuring speakers Dr. Fizza Zahid, Dr. Syeda Kashaf, and Dr. Ghausia Sumreen.

Furthermore, a research webinar entitled “Navigating the Clinical Trial Landscape” was conducted by Prof. Nazish Imran, Lead of MWAP’s Research section, on February 18, 2024. Prof. Uzair Qureshi, Director of ORIC at King Edward Medical University, Lahore, facilitated the session, offering a comprehensive overview of clinical trials from inception to analysis. This session was attended by postgraduate residents and early career researchers.
These academic webinars serve to enhance MWAP’s reputation as an association dedicated to fostering research and academic pursuits. Through national and international collaborations, MWAP aims to play a constructive role in advancing Pakistan’s healthcare sector.

National Awards:
Prof. Dr. Bilquis Shabbir, Vice President of MWAP has been honored with the Presidential Pride of Performance Award for her outstanding contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and floods of 2022 on a national scale. Currently, she holds positions as the Head of the Department of Medicine, Dean of Nursing, and Director of the Quality Enhancement Cell at Fatima Jinnah Medical University in Lahore.

Dr. Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, presented Prof. Dr. Mahwish Arooj, the Principal of UCMD and a founding member of MWAP, with the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation in February 2024. This recognition was bestowed upon her for her compassionate humanitarian efforts and significant contributions to addressing female health issues.