RECONSTRUCTING WOMEN INTERNATIONAL
WHO WE ARE
WE BELIEVE THAT ALL WOMEN DESERVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY AND TO PARTICIPATE AS STRONG AND VIBRANT MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.
WE ARE WOMEN RESTORING WOMEN
IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD, WOMEN AND YOUNG GIRLS SUFFER DISFIGURING AND DISABLING INJURIES & TRAUMA, OFTEN THE RESULT OF AN ASSAULT OR ACCIDENT.
MANY OF THESE AFFLICTIONS ARE DUE TO SOCIAL TRADITIONS, A WOMAN’S ETHNIC BACKGROUND, OR SIMPLY DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS THAT RESULT IN BURNS.
RECONSTRUCTING WOMEN INTERNATIONAL
IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY A TEAM OF FEMALE SURGEONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
ADDRESSING THE MEDICAL NEEDS OF THESE WOMEN, WORKING TO RESTORE THEM PHYSICALLY AND HELPING THEM TO RETURN TO HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES.
SENDING A MESSAGE
IN CARING FOR THESE WOMEN AND GIRLS WHO HAVE BEEN SOCIALLY MARGINALIZED AND CAST OFF BY THEIR COMMUNITIES, WE ARE SENDING THE VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT
EVERY WOMAN MATTERS, EVERY GIRL IS IMPORTANT.
ALL WOMEN DESERVE TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY DESPITE THE INJURIES AND TRAUMA SUFFERED.
THESE WOMEN RETURN TO THEIR FAMILIES & HOMES RESTORED- THUS SENDING A VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE TO THEIR COMMUNITIES THAT THEY ARE VALUED INDIVIDUALS DESERVING OF LOVE & RESPECT.
The story of RECONSTRUCTING WOMEN INTERNATIONAL (formerly WomenforWomen Reconstructive Surgery) began in 2007 when a small team of female plastic surgeons from Germany and the United States set off to work in a remote hospital in Northern India. Their goal was to offer reconstructive surgery to rural women who had been burned in domestic violence attacks. They traveled over long and dangerous roads and faced many challenges, including extreme temperatures and poor operating conditions. They carried with them a strong sense of solidarity among women. This journey was the start of our organization.
Plastic surgeons are more involved in humanitarian programs around the world than any other medical specialty. In 2006, Dr. Marita Eisenmann-Klein was the first woman elected as General Secretary of the International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS). She recognized the urgent reconstructive needs of women in developing countries. Together with Dr. Constance Neuhann-Lorenz, she founded WomenforWomen (former name of RWI). In a worldwide campaign for solidarity, a network of female plastic surgeons was formed who regularly give up their holidays to help afflicted women.
The Founding Reconstructing Women International Team with the local staff at Janani hospital in Palampur, February 2009.
WOMEN RESTORInG WOMEN :
THE POWER OF WANAWAKE
Our RWI teams are generally all female because in the areas of the world
where we work, female patients are more likely to seek care when they
and their families know that they will only be seen by other women.
An important additional benefit of this is the strong sense of kinship and
solidarity that develops on each trip. As women, surgeons and patients alike,
we recognize each other and the roles in which we live – as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends.
Being a woman surgeon does provide a different perspective. Speaking beyond even the context of these surgical programs, the fact that more young women are choosing surgical careers is a good thing. Surgery has traditionally been a ‘male world’, with all that that entails. Women are now changing the culture of surgery; we are softening it at its edges in a very positive way. We can be just as technically good, just as disciplined, hardworking and committed, but we see things through a slightly different lens. Our patients also see us differently; to them, we are less the ‘unapproachable surgeon’ and more ‘the lady doctor.’ We are thus sometimes better able to hear, understand and react to our patients’ concerns. As the number of female plastic surgeons increases internationally, we hope that our ranks of RECONSTRUCTING WOMEN INTERNATIONAL surgeons will continue to grow.
/wɑnə wɔk eɪ/
In Swahili, the plural form of woman
OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
RECONSTRUCTING WOMEN INTERNATIONAL is a small organization and everyone works as a volunteer.
NANCY VAN LAEKEN
MD, MHS, FACS, FRCSC
PLASTIC & RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA
CHIEF, DIVISION OF PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL, BOSTON, MA
PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
PRESIDENT, PLASTIC SURGERY FOUNDATION
DEPUTY CHIEF AND ADJUNCT PROFESSOR,
DIVISION OF PLASTIC AND HAND SURGERY
UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL ZURICH,
Director, Reconstructing Women Canada
Region Program Coordinator, Southern India
Director, Reconstructing Women U.S.A.
Region Program Coordinator, East Africa
Director, Reconstructing Women Europe
MD, MHS, FRCS(C)
BELINDA STRONACH CHAIR OF UHN BREAST RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
DIRECTOR OF UHN BREAST RECONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAM,
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PLASTIC SURGERY
HANSJORG WYSS DEPARTMENT OF PLASTIC SURGERY
Associate Director, Canada
Region Program Coordinator, Bangladesh
Associate Director, Europe
Associate Director, U.S.A.
Region Program Coordinator, Northern India