As my role as joint transnational coordinator of Sexperience (An international collaboration of projects similar to Sexpression) I’ve been in Prague for the European Regional Meeting of the IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations)
As Sexpression:UK national coordinator it follows that my international interests lie in the world of sexual and reproductive health equity. SCORA is the Standing Committee within the IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations) that is concerned with these issues. Actually as SCORAngels (yes, genuinely that’s we call ourselves!) we are in a much stronger position that the other standing committees. Our focus is already defined, it’s not too broad that we lose our direction and not too focussed that we restrict ourselves to merely one aspect – educating, advocating or acting on a local level.
In the SCORA world, we’re beginning to realise the importance of having a strategised direction to our work, this will ensure we have manageable objectives that we can actually achieve. Our voice will be concentrated and therefore stronger, and the fact this is starting to become a reality is really exciting for me and I’m so happy to be part of it.
After my first experience of the IFMSA in Ghana I was really excited by the energy of the place and enthused by meeting students from all over the world but as a Medsin-er who’s been trained up to my eyeballs in Strat planning and SMART objectives I also felt a bit lost.
I made a conscious decision to either act on my reservations about the IFMSA by inputting all the positive skills and knowledge I could into SCORA, or leave my international experience behind me and try and forget the potential lost. I know this sounds entirely pessimistic but if you see Felicity’s blog about EuRegMe you’ll perhaps glean a little about how much emotional energy the IFMSA can sap from you as someone approaching it from a Medsin perspective.
So by the fact that I’m writing a blog about my second international meeting, I bet you’ve guessed which route I went down! In preparation for Prague I thought about what frustrated me most in Ghana and the single most frequent thought I had during those educational sessions was… “So what can we do about it? How can we change this?” which rather obviously lead me to the ADVOCACY conclusion!
Advocacy is a somewhat alien term internationally, most countries don’t seem to have a direct translation (or even a rough translation), in other countries the thought of asking your medical school to change something let alone lobbying parliament is just unthinkable, so no wonder people look at the Medsin-UK delegation like we’re aliens when we harp on about advocacy a hundred times a day. And although sometimes for us this might feel like we’re pushing treacle up a hill, we have made some babysteps forward here in Prague.
In SCORA I ran a training session on advocacy and policy, this was a back to basics session, and it was brilliant! We planned mini-campaigns, strat planned them to death and we even thought about how policy statements could help us advocate. I was thoroughly pleased with how this session was received and I had some good comments. After my second session about Comprehensive Sexuality Education we formed an international team to plan a policy statement to ensure SCORA is acting with the full support of the IFMSA behind us.
Being part of the IFMSA can sometimes be frustrating and even disheartening but then I remember the really positive steps we’re taking in SCORA and I remember why I believe so strongly in the potential of the IFMSA to enact positive social change.
Follow me on twitter @holliboll and @sexpressionuk