For over a century, International Women’s Day, held on 8 March each year, has marked a day of celebration and advocacy for women’s rights and equality around the world.

This year’s official International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. It’s a call-to-action to challenge the status quo by raising awareness against bias, celebrating women’s achievement, and taking action for equality.

One simple, yet impactful way to celebrate International Women’s Day this year is to show your commitment to challenging inequality by taking part in the #ChooseToChallenge social media campaign. Take a photo of yourself raising your hand high and share it on your preferred social media platform(s) using #ChooseToChallenge and #IWD2021.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, we spoke to our students in the Translational Research Program, about what inspires them to study the sciences and their advice to young women interested in science.

Abimbola Saka

“I was born and raised in Nigerian; the Federal Republic of Nigeria Is a sovereign country in West Africa, comprising 36 states, with Lagos being the most popular and most populated state. Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960.

For me, Black History Month is a month to take pride in my unique culture and heritage as Yoruba Nigerian and highlight the successes and struggles within the black community.

As an International Medical Graduate and a recent graduate of the Translational Research Program at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, I have often been the only black or Nigerian in my class, which often inspired me to highlight the need for diversity in medical education.

Appreciating and highlighting black people’s success should not be limited to black history month alone. I encourage others to unlearn what they know about the black community and be open-minded to learning and welcoming more black people and their cultures into medical education. As an alumnus of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, I see the Faculty’s measures to promote diversity, which encouraged me to become a member of the IMS EDI committee.

I attribute my academic success and accomplishments as an MD and a Translational Researcher to the support of my family, friends, God, and allies in the Translational Research Program and other institutions I have attended. They have helped me to become who I am today. As an alumnus of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, I look forward to continuing my training to become a trained physician and a researcher.”

Azadeh Bojmehrani

I am an Iranian-Canadian. I got my Ph.D. from Laval University, QC. Now, I am a first-year student at TRP Master’s degree program.

My family members are in sciences and professors at universities. They always talked about their experiences and how magical science is. As much as they try to gain a deeper understanding, they just discover how little they actually know.

After my studies, I hope to transfer my knowledge to the new generation and apply all I learned to make positive changes to the world, specifically for women and young girls.

My advice: Never give up! Following this path has its ups and downs, but I assure you at the end, the light will show up.

Sally Moy

I am a first-year master’s student in the Translational Research Program.

I am actually the first in my family to pursue a graduate degree in the sciences!

Growing up, I really enjoyed my high school science classes and I was fortunate to have encouraging teachers who supported my learning. In high school, we learned about science through textbooks but I was really interested in working upstream of that, and being a part of the scientific process before it makes it into the textbook!

After completing my graduate studies, I want to continue focussing on helping patients and amplify their voices. When we think of patient-centred care, it’s important that patients are seen as essential partners in any clinical, scientific, or innovative initiative.

Scientific communication is also very important to me especially right now, where misinformation is becoming harder to tackle. The most important thing for me is making a positive difference in this world.

My advice: Science is a big field with lots of subfields: explore your options and learn what you like and don’t like. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and to invest in your own learning.

Vida Maksimoska

International Women’s days often leave me reflecting on the women that have helped guide me get to where I am today.

The wonderful women in STEM; the researchers I have worked with, my amazing co-workers and bosses that teach and empower me every day, that one professor from undergrad that inspired me to stay in research, science, and health care translation.

These women are excellent at what they do! They are innovators and trailblazers in their respective fields and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from them daily. Although it is sometimes hard for women to make their voice heard at the table especially in science it is amazing to me to see how much these women accomplish and impact.

They are role models that are caring, patient, and perseverant. I hope to continue to follow in their footsteps and hopefully inspire other women aspiring to be researchers and innovators in science.


*Note: Abimbola’s piece is adapted from GLSE’s feature and Azadeh & Sally’s pieces are excerpts from their LMP interviews.