Skip to main content

Press Release March 8, 2023

Operation Smile Celebrates International Women’s Day through #HealthEquityHeroes Social Media Campaign

Press Release March 8, 2023

Operation Smile Celebrates International Women’s Day through #HealthEquityHeroes Social Media Campaign

Global surgical nonprofit Operation Smile launches social media campaign to help raise awareness of the importance of empowering women to achieve health equity.


International Women’s Day, recognized each year on March 8, is a global day celebrating the achievements of women and marking a call to accelerate women’s equality. This International Women’s Day, Operation Smile is honoring the importance of health equity for women and what it means to empower women in medical leadership positions to inspire new generations of health care practitioners.

As part of this celebration, Operation Smile is launching #HealthEquityHeroes, a social media campaign to support the 2023 International Women’s Day theme, #EmbraceEquity. This campaign will invite women working in different areas like medicine, health, science, research, leadership, education, and more to join the organization in celebrating International Women’s Day. The series will begin on March 8 and continue throughout the year to help raise awareness of the importance of empowering women to achieve health equity. Participants are encouraged to write a brief note to their younger selves addressing the heights in their careers, paying it forward, acknowledging mentors who have supported them along the way, and other factors that contributed to their overall success.

“We know right now that 70% of the workforce in medicine is women, but yet they only have 25% of the senior leadership,” said Kathy Magee, Operation Smile Co-Founder and President. “How do we balance that out a little bit?” she continued.

Operation Smile believes that we can achieve health equity through gender equity. As a result, the organization continues to support the success of women through leadership initiatives like the Women in Medicine Initiative. Since its pilot program in 2020, Women in Medicine brought together teams of women health care professionals worldwide in 2022 to perform surgeries and provide comprehensive care to patients in need of cleft care at Operation Smile sites in Morocco, Peru, Malawi, and the Philippines. This initiative aims to educate women on advanced medical practices, empower women to become leaders in global medicine, expand opportunities for women in the health care workforce, and elevate cleft surgery and comprehensive care. As part of Operation Smile’s 10-year strategy, Women in Medicine will achieve these goals through continued surgical outreach programs, educational and mentorship opportunities, scholarships, gender and health equity innovation and research, and thought leadership that emphasizes the importance of women in global health.

“When you think about those women that help take care of you when you were little, that were there when you were hurt or afraid, what can you do for them? Imagine that we could create a different paradigm,” said Elizabeth Cote, Vice President of Global Medication Education, Operation Smile. “Women in Medicine is about bringing women into the workforce, helping them to advance and train in the health care workforce, lifting them and emboldening them in leadership positions.”

Through initiatives like Women in Medicine and #HealthEquityHeroes, Operation Smile hopes to demonstrate that representation matters. If she can see it, she can be it. Inequity is a lost opportunity to equip a whole generation of girls and women with the tools to become talented health care leaders and Operation Smile is taking steps to elevate the voices and actions of women all over the world.

About Operation Smile

Operation Smile is a global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care. Over the last 40 years, we have provided medical expertise, research, and care through our dedicated staff and medical and student volunteers around the world, working alongside local governments, nonprofits, and health systems, and supported by our generous donors. Learn more at or by following @operationsmile on social media.


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.