- Shelley Ross is secretary general of the Medical Women's International Association, a non-governmental organisation representing women doctors from all continents. The opinions expressed are her own. -

The Medical Women's International Association was created in 1919, not long after the first International Women's Day in 1911. MWIA's founder was an American by the name of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, who served as its first president. She was an obstetrician by training but an activist and humanitarian by action. Not only did she establish MWIA but she also founded the American Women's Hospital Service during the First World War.

The motto of the Medical Women's International Association, Matris Animo Curant, comes from Latin and translates to read, "She Heals with the Spirit of a Mother."

From the time of Hygeia in ancient Greece to present day, women have had a significance influence on the practice of medicine.

To name three of its objectives, MWIA (1) works to overcome gender-related differences in health and healthcare between women and men throughout the world, (2) works to overcome gender related inequalities in the medical profession and (3) works to promote health for all through the world with particular interest in women, health and development.