International Women’s Day

March 08, 2023

Written by Jeff Koetje, MD, AMSA Reproductive Health Programming Strategist, and
Anna Hindman, AMSA Vice President for Leadership Development,
and Reproductive Justice Coordinator for Gender & Sexuality Action Committee;
Anna is a 3rd year medical student at Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) marks an important day for the world. For well over 100 years, IWD has recognized and celebrated the vast accomplishments of women, girls and femme people worldwide while also highlighting barriers limiting gender parity and calling the world to action to fight against these barriers. 

This is certainly a day for celebrating the achievements of women, girls and femme people. It is also a day which calls us to account for the incalculable loss and harm caused to women, girls, and femme people due to the violence, violation, and oppression done by those who act in the interest and service of cis-heteropatriarchy – particularly white supremacist cis-heteropatriarchy, which has become a globalized structure of power through the interconnected projects of Euro-American colonialism and neocolonialism, imperial war mongering, and capitalism. We cannot honestly celebrate the lives and contributions of roughly half the world’s population without also acknowledging that the system of power currently upholding a white supremacist cis-heteropatriarchal world order is not only unjust, it is inhuman.

When we commit ourselves to seeing the world with moral clarity and making judgements about the world order that has been constructed, we don’t just stop there. We have an ethical, moral – indeed, a human – responsibility to take up the work that shifts the current reality, that changes the current reality – we put ourselves to the joyful, creative work of remaking reality to be something different and better. We commit ourselves to listening deeply to those most impacted by the current systems of interlocking oppression, so as to internalize the many visions and dreams for freedom, justice, and liberation held by those pushed to the margins (and to the margins of the margins).  

We recognize that every system and institution of the current world order has been disordered by white supremacist cis-heteropatriarchy, and that includes the profession of medicine, its institutions (including its academic centers), and its culture. We who are the members and leaders of the American Medical Student Association want to use this instance of International Women’s Day to call our chosen profession to account for the particular ways that we have caused and continue to cause tremendous harm to women, girls, and femme people; and to call our chosen profession to break the yet-unbroken cycles of violence, domination, and control which have been allowed to continue within patriarchal medicine. The current maternal mortality crisis in this society, the US, is to a significant extent the result of medical malpractice, and we need to stop hiding behind euphemism – this is women’s blood (especially Black women’s blood) on the hands of practitioners of white patriarchal medicine which disregards the value of their lives and their being.

We call on our profession to condemn and abandon the sociopathological and spiritually desolate worldviews of those white male enslaving physicians of the 1800s and 1900s who viewed, in particular, Black, Indigenous, and colonized women as subhuman beings who could be subjected to their barbaric experimentation in the name of scientific discovery and medical advancement. While we may no longer so readily call them the “Fathers of Modern Medicine,” there is no doubt that our profession remains captured in their perverse mindsets.

Instead, let us re-story ourselves and our profession, let us remember (and re-member, re-embody) that the practice of medicine, at its core, is the simple act of companioning people in the various experiences of their lives.

Let us name Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey – and so many other women, girls, and femme people, as the Mothers of Modern Medicine.

Let us lift up and celebrate women in medicine, not because they are superhuman beings, but because they are, indeed, fully human.

Let us let women, and girls, and femme people speak their/our truths, because these truths are necessary for the literal survival of our species. 

We who are the members and leaders of AMSA name and honor the feminist origins of our own independent organization. Many know that we started out as the student division of the American Medical Association, but when the AMA refused to stand in support of universal healthcare on the principle that healthcare is a universal human right, and to condemn the violence of warmongering, the medical students at that time decided that the right thing to do was to put their values into action, and break away. 

AMSA holds a commitment to ensuring the feminist voice is heard at our highest leadership levels, on this International Women’s Day we celebrate that voice and renew our commitment. 



Additional Action Items from AMSA and the Reproductive Health Project: 

Sign up here if you are interested in gathering together with the Gender and Sexuality Action Committee to strategize next steps to combat the egregious efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care. Working in solidarity with one another, we can begin combatting current discriminatory efforts to curtail access to gender-affirming care for youth.

AMSA 2023-24 Reproductive Health Research Medical Students Survey on Education & Training Opportunities:
We invite all US Domestic Medical students to complete the following survey by March 15, 2023 – please click here

*If you are interested in becoming a survey coordinator who will help us distribute the survey at your school, please reach out to anna.hindman@amsa.org.

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