International Women’s Day: In Conversation with Dr. Tina Meisami

Today marks the beginning of our month-long International Women’s Day series, where we feature inspirational and empowering women. For our first spotlight, we spoke to Dr. Tina Meisami, Oral Surgeon and Founder of Dr. Borna Meisami Commemorative Foundation. Dr. Meisami shared some insights on the beginnings of her foundation, the meaning of International Women’s Day, inspirational women in her life, and the women’s rights movement and revolution in Iran.

What led you to start the Dr. Borna Meisami Commemorative Foundation?

“The Foundation began as a sign of devotion to my late brother and his young daughter. He was an orthopaedic surgeon, a humanitarian, and the most influential man in my early life who taught me about feminism. After his tragic death in 2007 and the loss of the enormous support he provided in my life, I decided to pay it forward by providing women in need the kind of care and support that was provided to me by my brother in my life. The kind of support that feels like a strong loving hand on your back pushing you forward in life. The kind of support that is genuine and makes you feel you are valuable, capable and loved.”

Who has been an inspiring female figure in your life?

“There has not been just one figure. For as long and as far back as I can remember, I have been observing women in my life and their strength and resilience in the face of adversity. These strong resilient women include my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, and all the brave women that stand up for the rights of others in need. Women who love, protect, and nurture.”

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2010 is the day of inception of the Dr. Borna Meisam Commemorative Foundation. March 8th is the most important day of the year to recognize women’s rights, raise awareness about GBV and to celebrate women’s achievements. It is the day to reinforce our commitment to women’s health, and highlight the importance of our work in the care and improvement of women’s overall physical and mental health. It is also the day to celebrate the work of our Foundation in forging an avenue for equity in women’s healthcare, without bias or barrier to accessing care. That said, at Dr. Borna Meisami Foundation, every day is considered International Women’s Day because our sole focus is on the healthcare of women who have suffered GBV/IPV and abuse, to help them achieve a healthy, pain-free body and mind. We have the passion to improve a woman’s health and improve her quality of life: Restore a Smile, Empower a Woman, Reclaim her Life.”

As an Iranian-Canadian woman, you have been vocal about the women’s rights movement and revolution in Iran. Why is it important for you to use your platform and voice to amplify the voices in Iran?

“The revolution in Iran began 5 months ago with the fight for women’s rights and it is symbolized by the words: Women, Life, Freedom. The explosion of the people’s anger, after the brutal killing of a very innocent 21 year old woman by the name of Mahsa Jina Amini, was as a result of 44 years of repression of every form, including (amongst so many other things) legal and systematic discrimination against women and the cruelest expression of gender apartheid by the Islamic revolutionary guards.

I am extremely proud of the most courageous women and men who are fighting for freedom and dignity. Their bravery, amplified by the support and acts of solidarity by the rest of us Iranian diaspora living in democratic countries, has resonated throughout the world. It has made the world pause and pay attention.

I believe it is of utmost importance that anyone who has a platform, especially when living in the safety of our home Canada, to join in solidarity with the people of Iran to bring back democracy, human rights, and women’s rights, and I am proud to raise my voice in support.”

When do you feel most empowered?

“I feel most empowered when I am true to myself, when I am being an effective leader, and when, together we work to concretely change the world. I feel most empowered when I realize that I can have impact and influence. I am so privileged to be able to link my passion for Women’s Rights and surgery, and in that connection I feel most empowered.”

Photo courtesy of Dr. Tina Meisami.