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Medical Women’s International Association ( MWIA )

(english version)

Wednesday 4 July 2012, by Clare Mearns

All the versions of this article: [English] [English]

The Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) representing women doctors from all five continents. The association was founded in 1919 and is therefore one of the oldest professional bodies at the international level.
It is non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit making.
At the time when MWIA was founded, women doctors were a curiosity, and there was a need for a forum to discuss common concerns. Women physicians being the minority is no more, as women constitute at least 50% of many medical schools. As women become the majority of practicing physicians, a new set of concerns will emerge.

A Propos :

Son histoire :

Foundation of the Medical Women’s International Association

In 1919, the first international congress of women doctors was held in New York from 15 September to 26 October. The American Women’s Hospitals Service Committee (a committee of the American Medical Women’s Association) took this opportunity and organized a dinner in honour of distinguished medical women from different countries who had just returned from medical relief work in France. 140 guests from 16 nations attended the festivities. Some woman doctors sensed the opportunity of forming an international association of medical women. Their suggestion was enthousiastically welcomed by the participants of the dinner. Within a few days a Committee of Twelve was chosen by ballot and empowered to organize the Medical Women’s International Association and to nominate Executive Officers. The Committee met on October 25, 1919 and an Executive Committee was elected. The first MWIA President was Dr. Esther P. Lovejoy, U.S.A. Three Vice-Presidents, a treasurer, a recording secretary, and a corresponding secretary were also elected. A provisional constitution was adopted and provisional aims and objectives were laid down: exchange ideas and unite efforts for the benefit of mankind.
In 1919, woman doctors from 16 nations became members of MWIA.

In 1922, MWIA held its first international congress. Since then, congresses are organized regularly on topics of immediate interest.

Structure :

The Medical Women’s International Association today

Today, MWIA is a parent organization, whose members represent 90 countries in all five continents. The different cultural backgrounds, medical traditions and problems of its members provide a stimulating forum. There are four types of membership within the Association:

a. Affiliated National Associations

b. Individual Members

c. Honorary Members

d. Members of Honour

All Medical Women qualified according to the accepted standard of the medical profession in their own country are eligible for membership. It is also a requisite that all qualified Medical Women of the country (National Association) must be eligible for membership irrespective of race, religion or political opinion. The affiliated National Associations comprise over 90% of our members. Individual Members are Medical Women from a country having no Association, who apply directly to the Association for membership. Individual members are encouraged to form a national. Members of Honour and Honorary Membership is awarded any woman, who has rendered to the medical profession such signal service as to merit recognition.
The Association is composed of 8 geographical regions. Each region is represented on the Executive Committee by its Vice-President.

 Northern Europe

 Central Europe

 Southern Europe

 North America

 Latin America

 Near East and Africa

 Central Asia

 Western Pacific

The powers of the Association are vested in the delegates of the membership, which elect an Executive Committee consisting of President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary-General and the Vice-Presidents to facilitate and expedite the handling of affairs of the Association in the intervals between the meetings of the General Assembly. The legal Head Office of the Association is in Geneva, Switzerland. The Association is incorporated under Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code. The Administrative Headquarters are at the present time in Dortmund, Germany, where the activities of the affiliated National Associations and Individual Members are coordinated. The various committees within the Organization provide the Executive Board with ideas and impulses for activities in the future, be it topics for discussion, future projects, or active participation with organizations sharing areas of common interest. The activities of the Association are supported by its members through dues, honorary service and donations.

International relations

The Association has been actively involved since the early fifties with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Today M.W.I.A. maintains official working relations with the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.), Category II Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is involved in the Immunization Programmes of the United Nations Childrens’s Fund (UNICEF). MWIA is represented in all three of the United Nation Centers, New York and Geneva by Permanent Representatives. As a founding member, the Association is actively involved with the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS). Thus the Medical Women’s International Association provides its members with the opportunity to exchange ideas medically and personally, and to exchange interests and experiences with colleagues from other nations. We have found - though we have different languages, customs, ideologies, and racial backgrounds - that working together with mutual respect we can contribute to humanity. We are motivated by the same hope, that all the world’s people will become physically and mentally healthier and consequently better world citizens.

Projets :

Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCTPlus)

Click here to see a list of MWIA’s projects

Contacts :

Medical Women’s International Association

Secretary-General, Shelley Ross M.D.

7555 Morley Drive, Burnaby, B.C.


Tel.: +1 604 439 8993

Fax: +1 604 439 8994

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