International Women’s Day 2017: Exclusive Interview With ‘Woman Achiever Award Winner’ Dr. Sumana Navin

International Women’s Day 2017: Exclusive Interview With ‘Woman Achiever Award Winner’ Dr. Sumana Navin

by Amrita Surendranath on Mar 8 2017 5:11 PM
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  • International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th 2017
  • The theme is ‘Women in the changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030’
  • Dr. Sumana Navin shares her experiences in working with organ donation, being awarded the ‘ women achiever award’ and support for women at the workplace
International Women’s Day 2017 is a day to commemorate the silent efforts of the countless women in our lives. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8th, is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030”
A section of the society is exposed to technological advancements which have resulted in numerous opportunities for women, to grow in their workspace as confident, independent women. However, large sections of the society still suffer from informal labor, abuse, crises with disparities in the income earned.

The UN statistics show that
  • Only 50% of working age women are in the labor force across the globe
  • 76 % of men are in the labor force
  • A large proportion of women are employed in the informal industry like domestic workers and are involved in low skill labor.
The need to celebrate International Women’s Day is brought about by the need to bring equality into the workspace, where women are given the same opportunity as men and paid the same salaries. As a part of the Women’s Day Celebration, the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) which will meet at The UN Headquarters will discuss on “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work,” from 13 – 24 March 2017.

Achieving Planet 50:50

Some key targets proposed by the UN are
  • All boys and girls should have access to primary and secondary education
  • There should be an end to discrimination against girls and women
  • There should be elimination of violence against women at home as well as in the public space
  • Harmful practices like genital mutilation and child marriage should be stopped
Celebrating women’s day is about raising awareness about gender equality at the workspace, encouraging women to pursue a career which will give them economic freedom and help support their family.

In this regard, Medindia carried out an exclusive interview with Dr. Sumana Navin, who is the Course Director at Mohan Foundation, a well-known organization committed to the cause of organ donation. Dr. Sumana is busy delivering lectures across the country, educating healthcare professionals about organ donation and transplantation, and training transplant co-ordinators. She developed the course content for the Transplant Coordinators’ Training Programme and is the editor for the Indian Transplant Newsletter. Some of her achievements include:

Dr. Sumana Navin

  • Being invited by the Society of Organ Transplantation, Bangladesh, to conduct the first-ever transplant coordinators’ training programme (2014). 
  • She received the Best Abstract Award at the Congress of the Asian Society of Transplantation for her paper titled ‘Impact of Trained Transplant Coordinators on the Deceased Donation Transplantation Programme in India’ held in August 2015 in Singapore.
  • She was invited by the NHS Blood and Transplant, UK at the Deceased Donation Course for Intensive Care Medicine trainees as an observer in February 2016.
  • Training 1416 transplant coordinators over a period of 7 years.
As a recognition of her service to society in driving the selfless act of organ donation and inspiring thousands of women, Dr. Sumana Navin was felicitated by the ‘Inner Wheels’ faction of the ‘Rotary Club’ with a ‘Women Achiever Award’ (March 8th 2017). Here are the excerpts of our interview with Dr. Sumana:

Medindia: Congratulations Doctor on receiving the award. What drove you to choose this career path?

Dr. Sumana: Thank you.There is always the general belief that there is a lack of humanity in our society but I choose to differ. It is heartwarming to see relatives of deceased patients coming forward in a truly selfless act to donate their organs. In a moment of utter grief, they choose to bring light and life to another family, the moment is special and this is what has kept me in this field for so many years.

Medindia: What are the initial steps towards organ donation?

Dr. Sumana: Organ donation should ideally start with blood donation. Once a person donates blood and realizes the importance of saving lives, the seed of organ donation is implanted. This takes me back to my college days when my professor told me that I should donate blood on my birthday. Birthdays are when everyone wishes you and gives you plenty of gifts, so that would be the ideal day to give something back to the society. This way it cuts out the grief of the patient and will encourage other people to donate too.

When someone donates blood, then, in the unfortunate event of an unexpected death, the family will be more tuned to donating the organs of the deceased. This simple act could indicate to family members about the intention of the deceased towards organ donation. There is an urgent need to ‘start the conversation’, an ongoing debate would help create awareness and motivate people to think. This way, it will no longer be an alien topic.

Everyone should begin by donating blood on their birthday, and then pledge their eyes and then organs for donation.

Medindia: Who has been your most inspiring support through your journey this far?

Dr. Sumana: The families of the deceased donors have kept me rooted in the cause of organ donation. There are also recipients who have made a remarkable contribution to society as a way of thanksgiving for the gift of life that they received. In this regard, I would like to mention the Late Mrs. Malathi Venkatesan, Trustee of MOHAN Foundation and TANKER Foundation who inspired me with her indomitable spirit and courage. Dr. Shroff is another important person who has been a constant source of support and encouragement.

Medindia: What are some of your most treasured moments over the years?

Dr. Sumana: There are many moments that I hold dear, over the years. One of them is the story of Ms. Suchitra way back in 1998, when the idea of organ donation was still very nascent in India. Suchitra was 18-years-old and her brother was only 15 years, they lost their parents in a road accident but they still took the bold step to donate their parents’ organs. Another moving incident is about a mother, Rama, who could look past the grief of her daughter’s death, to bring light to seven lives. Rama’s daughter was only 13-years-old when a sudden bleeding in the brain took her daughter away from her.

It is this ability of people to hold onto their pain and yet relieve that of many others by donating the organs of their dear departed ones, which has continued to encourage me to believe in the wonderful society we all are a part of.

Medindia: In view of Women’s Day, what are the challenges faced by women in the workplace?

Dr. Sumana: Being a doctor and working for a non-profit organization, I have been in a supportive environment. However, I believe that women should be provided with the right reinforcement at work. They should be given the option of flexible timings and the opportunity to work from home. Moreover, safe child care facilities should be provided at work.

There should be fixed targets that they could stick to, which will aid in facilitating accountability. There will be times when her children demand extra time but she should not be penalized for that, instead she should be given the necessary encouragement.

Medindia: Thank You doctor for your time and we hope you continue to grow in eminence.

  1. Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 - (
  2. 2017 Theme: “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” - (