Ensuring Women are Part of the Healthy People in a Healthy Planet!

WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine Newsletter

Ensuring Women are Part of the Healthy People in a Healthy Planet!

WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine was established in 2001. As of 2023, this working party has expanded to the various WONCA regions. Currently, 5 WONCA regions have a fully functional team of this working party (WP): Africa, Europe, Iberoamericana, North America, and South Asia. All the regions are very active with webinars, conferences, educational meetings, etc. Both young and old women who are Family Physicians or General Practitioners can join this WP to improve themselves in various ways like leadership, presentations of papers, etc., to reach their full potential and to make changes within the society.


To promote the role of women family doctors working in Wonca, to highlight their special contributions and reduce the barriers facing them, thereby enabling them to reach their full potential and enhance the contributions of family physicians/GPs around the world to clinical care, women’s health, education, research, and leadership in family medicine.

Objectives1 of WP

  • To develop a regional team in all the WONCA regions.
  • To develop a communication platform within WWPWFM and Wonca.
  • To have activities on women’s health in all the regions.
  • To develop mentorship programs and support women to become leaders within the regions and WONCA.
  • To develop teaching and research activities within the regions.
  • To have pre-conferences and fireplace wisdom in all the regional and world conferences.

WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine (South Asia Region)

South Asia region (SAR) joined the WWPWFM on 8th March 2023 (International Women’s Day). A regional team was developed from 28 members from the 6 member organizations of SAR (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka).

The regional team consists of the following members:

  • Lead: Dr. Hina Jawaid (Pakistan)
  • Communication Lead: Dr. P. Asanka S.R. Pathiratne (Sri Lanka)
  • Young Dr. Lead: Dr. Gunjan Jha (India)
  • Country leads:
    • Bangladesh: Dr. Paramita Karim
    • Bhutan: Dr. Kinley Bhutti
    • India: Vidhya Raghavendran
    • Nepal: Dr. Rajani Giri
    • Pakistan: Dr. Zara Muhammad
    • Sri Lanka: Dr. Dilini Ilapperuma Baranage

Membership list has increased after the Sydney conference and now they have 62 members. Members are connected through social media/WhatsApp group where all members are free to discuss meetings, agendas, work-related matters, and take advice from colleagues. They have an open-door policy, are inclusive, flexible, and encourage sharing ideas.

WWPWFM SAR has been very active in educational teaching and training, clinical, and research activities both regionally and globally. They have not only supported and promoted female family physicians/general practitioners, including young doctors in the region, but also collaborated with other WPs/SIGs and institutions/organizations globally. They have showcased their work in regional and international family medicine conferences, in the WONCA Global Newsletter, and have reached out to a wider audience. Six to seven Family Physicians regularly contribute to print media on primary care and health-related topics.

A rotating schedule for all 6 countries has been developed for the year and this allows each regional country to present their work monthly. About 10 webinars have been conducted on various international or regional health/awareness days/months (e.g., breast cancer awareness, WDD, SAR Heritage). In addition, they support WP colleagues in other regions (e.g., North America), WONCA EMR Family Violence project (WP), plenary health research WP, and PMNCH/WHO. Despite a small workforce from Bangladesh and Bhutan, with only 2 female FPs from each country, their contributions have been significant and this is commendable.

During the 2024 International Women’s Day, a panel discussion was conducted on the theme 'Maintaining work-life balance as a female physician'. This was arranged by a mix of vibrant young and experienced doctors who shared ideas and gave valuable inputs.

In the recent WONCA World conference in October 2023 in Sydney, 24% of abstracts from women were from SAR. Similarly, in the regional conference in Colombo (3rd to 5th May 2024), this WP had a total of 27 accepted abstracts (15 as oral, 12 as poster, and 1 panel discussion) with 8 of these by the young doctor’s group.

WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine Workshop: WONCA SAR Conference Colombo 4th May 2024

Fire side wisdom: sharing our experience on women’s health.

A team of women presented the history of SAR WWPWFM and their achievements. The current statistics of SAR women’s health (maternal deaths, use of contraception, gynecological and non-communicable diseases including breast cancer, mental health issues, and domestic violence) were presented followed by robust group discussions.

The presence of Anna Stavdal, Val Wass, and Keren Flagg encouraged the young doctors to show their leadership styles during the feedback session. Emphasis on women empowerment, health awareness, and early screening through robust primary care systems was encouraged. There were about 20 females and 5 males that joined the workshop from various countries, including Africa and Europe.

The team of female FPs/GPs are currently in the process of compiling a program (online) for World Doctor Day on the 19th of May 2024 in all five regions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Family Doctors for their commitment towards their patients. In this era of war and crime against women, I humbly request all the Family Doctors to ensure that women are taken care of with due respect in all aspects of life to ensure healthy people and a healthy planet. Happy Family Doctor’s Day!

1. WONCA Working Party: Women and Family Medicine https://www.globalfamilydoctor.com/groups/WorkingParties/WomenandFamilyMedicine.aspx

Authors: Dr. Elizabeth Reji (Chair WWPWFM) & Dr. Hina Jawaid (Co-Chair: WWPWFM & Regional Lead WWPWFM SAR)