The more Operation Smile can foster stronger, more inclusive health systems worldwide, the better equipped these health systems will be to offer the best possible care for our patients and their communities. To that end, Operation Smile was thrilled to participate in the Women Deliver 2023 conference this July in Kigali, Rwanda, networking with thousands of advocates, innovators, agencies and organizations that influence the global agenda in healthcare.  

Women Deliver is the largest gathering of health organizations with the shared goal of creating gender equity in healthcare around the world. The pursuit of gender equity is a fundamental pillar of global health equity, and the Women Deliver conference was another exciting step in that direction. The promotion of gender equity can drive positive transformative changes for patients, healthcare professionals and communities.  

Operation Smile’s presence at the conference was felt through our dedicated exhibition booth, featured work in the Arts and Film Festival and an Operation Smile-hosted panel discussion. Through our participation in these activations, we engaged with the influential decision-makers at the conference to be a part of the solution for inclusive healthcare and motivated our audience to take meaningful steps toward advancing gender equity and supporting our global mission. 

The in-person moderated panel event on The Power of Peer Mentorship to Transform Global Health was an immersive event highlighting the ways in which positive interpersonal investment and peer mentorship plays a vital role in fostering equity in healthcare around the globe. These kinds of conversations are critical for creating space and solutions to empower the next generation of health care providers, and we are grateful to our esteemed panelists and moderator for their participation. 

Our event speakers included the following leaders in health equity: 

  • Dr. Elizabeth Coté, MD, MPA, Vice President of Global Medical Education at Operation Smile 
  • Dr. Fetiya Awol, MD, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Assistant Professor and Chief Clinical Director, Jimma University Medical Center 
  • Dr. Francoise Mukagaju, MD, Rwanda’s First Female Plastic Surgeon and Vice Chair of Rwanda Women Surgeon 
  • Dr. Francoise Nizeyimana, MD, Anesthesia and Critical Care Program Director, University of Rwanda 
  • Dr. Jane Odubu Fualal, MD, Head of the Breast and Endocrine Unit, Mulago National Referral Hospital, President of COSECSA 
  • Ms. Johanna Teague, Swedish Ambassador of Rwanda

We were proud to contribute to the Women Deliver Arts and Film Festival through the work of two Operation Smile global ambassadors, photographer Manuela Emmer and cleft artist Monica Bachue. 

Having women in leadership positions is essential to informing health care strategies, decreasing gender data biases and cultivating environments for more women to rise. Operation Smile is proud to use our voice to advocate for the values that we embrace as an organization.  

Join us in making this year a turning point for gender equality and equity in global health. Learn more about our Women in Medicine initiative at

Change a life today