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PWRS: Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery

There are ONLY 3 WOMEN SURGEONS for every 1 million people in low-income countries, and they often face economic and cultural barriers to gaining acceptance in their field.

ReSurge International and SkinCeuticals’ Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery (PWRS) program advances first-generation women reconstructive surgeons in underserved parts of the world. 

Your donation helps the next generation of women surgeons break barriers, advance their careers, and transform lives around the world through life-altering reconstructive surgery. THANK YOU for your gift!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery (PWRS) Program?

The Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery (PWRS) program is a partnership between ReSurge International, a global health nonprofit, and SkinCeuticals to advance first-generation women reconstructive surgeons in low-income countries across the world. This program aims to tackle the gender gap in global surgery by providing surgical training, leadership development, and mentorship for women surgeons in low-income countries.


Who is ReSurge International?

Five billion people do not have access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care worldwide, and 18 million die every year from surgically preventable diseases. ReSurge International is a global nonprofit organization that gives people with surgically-treatable conditions in low-income countries a chance to lead fuller, healthier lives by training and funding local surgical teams to provide life-changing care. ReSurge pairs 50+ years of experience with an innovative capacity building model that is creating a ripple-effect of impact across economies, communities, and human lives. ReSurge works in 19 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and partners with some of the world’s leading experts in reconstructive surgery. Learn more at

What is reconstructive surgery?

Plastic and reconstructive surgery restores normal function from an accident or trauma, a congenital condition, or cancer. Traffic accidents, burns, missing digits, cleft palates, and cancer reconstruction are all common conditions reconstructive surgeons treat.

Why is access to reconstructive surgery limited in low-income countries?

Every 2 seconds someone dies from a neglected surgical disease. That death toll is 5x greater than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined. In low-income countries there is a higher need for surgical care and a shortage of surgeons. Traumas like burns or traffic accidents from poor conditions, disasters, or war are higher in low-income countries. There is also a shortage of reconstructive surgeons globally. To put this into perspective, the U.S. has 1 reconstructive surgeon per 50,000 people, while Sub-Saharan Africa only has 1 reconstructive surgeon per 10 million people. It is well-proven that universal access to surgical care alleviates poverty and suffering and contributes to the sustainable development goals. Not only does access to free and safe reconstructive surgery transform lives; it transforms global economies. One surgery can mean that a child or an adult in a low-income country can go to school, get a job and contribute to their family and community.

Big Picture Questions

Why does this program exist?

SkinCeuticals and ReSurge International started the PWRS program to change the landscape for women surgeons worldwide, enabling them to advance their careers and transform the lives of those in need of life-changing surgical care. We can never ensure equitable access to surgical care if we are only relying on half of the population to fulfill that need. Fundamentally, gender equity is a matter of justice. But also, it is an indispensable means to achieve universal access to surgical care. We believe in disrupting the long-standing structure of patriarchy in surgical fields by providing training, leadership development, mentorship and community to early-career women surgeons.

Why do we need more women reconstructive surgeons around the world?

There is a massive global shortage of reconstructive surgeons. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, only has 1 reconstructive surgeon per 10 million people. And of those surgeons, only 7% are women. To increase access to surgical care around the world, we must address the gender cap in medicine and global surgery.

What are the barriers of being a woman surgeon in a low-income country?

We find that many of the barriers the women in our PWRS program face are universal to women in the workforce around the world. Research shows that women surgeons still face persistent discrimination throughout their career, disadvantages in career promotions, and substantial pay gaps. Globally, the picture is even worse. As of 2015, there were only three female surgeons for every 1 million people in low-income countries, meaning that often our PWRS women are the only women surgeons within their entire hospital systems

Getting Involved

How can I support this program?

If you would like to support this program you can help us by making a donation to ReSurge International and spreading the word about this important work. Make a donation at If you would like to be a ReSurge International PWRS ambassador or mentor, reach out to

Where do I donate? Where does my money go?

Donate at or Your tax deductible donation goes directly to ReSurge International, a 501c3 organization. ReSurge International is a leading global surgery non-profit with 50+ years of history providing life-transforming reconstructive surgical care and training in low-income countries around the world. ReSurge is a Charity Navigator “Give with Confiidence” Charity, has a Platinum transparency seal from GuideStar, and is a 20/20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance rated charity.

How can I become a PWRS brand ambassador or mentor?

If you would like to be a ReSurge International PWRS ambassador, reach out to

How Do I apply to the PWRS program as a participant?

Reach out to for information on how to apply.

Program Questions

What countries are represented?

PWRS trainees come from low-income countries from all over the world. Past trainees have come from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ecuador, India, Malawi, Nepal, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

What do PWRS trainees get from the program?

The program offers each cohort two years of leadership development, didactic and hands-on clinical skills training opportunities, and mentorship.Through a dedicated leadership course, the PWRS women spend intensive time examining their leadership and personality styles, setting ambitious goals for their own career growth. These women face unique and steep obstacles as often the only woman surgeon sometimes within their hospital, and some even from within their entire country. This course gives them the tools to navigate complex challenges in the workplace to change perceptions and the landscape, paving the way for future generations of women surgeons.

What happens after the surgeons graduate?

When the women graduate from the two year program, we have seen a marked increase in their confidence, surgical skills, and leadership capabilities. Allowing them to continue working in their home communities to provide empathetic and world-class care to their patients and to advocate for change and lead within their hospital systems. Each powerful woman surgeon is a role model for her patients and her community, normalizing women in surgery and advancing the field. With more women surgeons in the field, the gap in access to surgical care reduces, allowing more patients to get the quality care they so desperately need. Beyond patient care, these PWRS women go on to mentor other young surgeons to encourage them to advance their careers as well. They join a growing community of a prestigious alumnae network of women surgeons around the globe. Continuing to stay in touch offering each other advice on cases and career growth.

Who is eligible to participate in the program?

To be eligible for the PWRS program, applicants must be from a low- or middle-income country as defined by the World Bank. Applicants must identify as a woman. Gender identity can refer to one’s self-identified gender, rather than birth-assigned sex; typically includes male, female, and transgender categories. This scholarship is intended for females, non-binary people identifying primarily as women, or transgender women. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a reconstructive surgical training program, and at a minimum must have completed medical school and surgical residency. They must be starting to or already focusing on reconstructive surgery. PWRS trainees must be committed to working in or serving in a low- or middle-income country to serve the patients with the greatest need for surgical care. If you would like to apply to the program, please reach out to

Spring Into Action

Your contribution today will enable patients like Luz Dariana to thrive. Together, we can bring hope, healing, and transformation to patients in need around the world!

Jacob Youssef Samuel - Burn Survivor

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