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‘Women and War: The Price of Violence’- Free to access

14 Jun 2021

RCOG President Mr Eddie Morris reflects on a stand out talk from RCOG World Congress 2021

Our first virtual World Congress concluded on Saturday evening and was a phenomenal success.

Across four days, over 3,000 delegates from 85 countries were able to experience more than 100 lectures and talks from their homes and places of work across the globe.

I have many reflections from across the four days. However, there was one talk that really stood out for me – I felt it was the most important talk for us all – and that was ‘Women and War: the Price of Violence’, by Dr Orly Stern, a researcher, consultant and human rights lawyer from South Africa.

This insightful, hard-hitting and moving lecture outlined the multiple ways women are harmed by conflict, and it covered displacement, gender violence, exploitation and health care needs.

In a short space of time, Dr Stern was able to convey to our delegates the suffering and pain experienced by women in conflict zones. Her talk highlighted the uncomfortable truths that lead to the abuse of women during war.

Dr Stern showed that the effects on women are largely the same, whatever country they come from. Women and their children are suffering. This talk shows that war is not just about armed conflict and the politics behind it, but that the greatest and the most enduring suffering is that of women and future generations.

I would like to thank Orly for giving this talk, which I feel should be seen by everyone in health care, and especially those working on obstetrics and gynaecology. We are therefore extremely grateful to Orly for giving us permission to make this lecture freely available for all to watch. This lecture is truly a must see. Please do suggest it to friends and colleagues, and share on social media.

Commenting on the impact of her presentation, Dr Stern said: "Reproductive issues are affected by contextual factors – and few contexts have such immense, multi-faceted effects on women’s lives as armed conflicts do. To understand women’s reproductive issues in conflict, we need to understand about the effects that war has on women’s lives. My talk sought to paint a picture of this."

Despite the ongoing impact and uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the fact we were still able to bring the global O&G community together in learning and celebration is a remarkable achievement. It was an immense challenge to convert a largely physical Congress to a fully digital one, and despite all the uncertainties, this has been an extremely popular type of Congress.

The feedback from delegates has been universally positive, with many describing the event as the most global Congress ever and the highlight of the year.

The success of this event has been driven by the hard work and determination of the organising committee and many teams across the College.

My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to all involved, and we look forward to seeing you at our 2022 Congress.

  • Careers and workforce
  • Pregnancy and birth