Extraordinary General Meeting FAQ

This is a selection of some of the questions raised during the two Q&A Dialogue Sessions.

1. Procedures of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)

Q – Can the voting procedure be defined more clearly?

A – The voting procedures will be shared with Representatives by email before the EGM in May 2021. Representatives will login to a Portal where they can vote on the six proposals. The EGM is spread over six days to make sure Member Organizations are able to participate. Voting will be private, confidential, and accessible. 

Q – Is there a time limit for Representatives to log into the Platform for the EGM? Will they be able to log in several times and change their votes during the six-day period?

A – There is no limit for logging in. The EGM starts on Tuesday 11 May at 00:00 UTC and ends on Sunday 16 May 17:00 UTC. Representatives can log into the Platform several times and at any time, read the pre-recorded material, and vote. The vote can be changed during the six days. The Secretariat will be monitoring technical problems and provide support; however please take into account the difference in time zones which could delay immediate answers.

Q – Will you consider the low internet connectivity of some contexts?

A – This is an important issue. The Platform is simple and fast, making it accessible to settings with low bandwidth. The asynchronous setup of the EGM spanning over six days will also facilitate participation, as Representatives can log in read the material and vote at any time they wish.  

Q – Will there be any virtual rooms to negotiate the amendments with colleagues?

A – The process that we follow is very similar to the normal Council meeting. Generally, in a normal in-person Council meeting, Bylaws proposals are put up and ultimately put to a vote, and then either adopted or rejected. Usually in Council, there are no breakout groups to discuss such changes. 

Q – Can WONCA confirm that the only thing Member Organizations will be voting on are the six amendments mentioned?

A – Yes, there will be nothing other than those six amendments at the EGM.

Q – How will countries with more than one Member Organizations vote?

A – According to the WONCA Bylaws, each country or group of national organizations receives a specific number of votes, which is based on their combined number of members declared. For example, if one country has two full Member Organizations, the number of members declared by both Organizations will be taken into consideration to determine the total number of votes assigned to the entire country. Furthermore, according to the Bylaws, one Delegate representing the country’s full Member Organisations will be invited to cast the country’s votes on their behalf.
The voting system dates to the origins of WONCA in 1972. At the time, several of the Member Organizations came from a single country and each country got only one vote. We acknowledge that voting and representation are very important points and work needs to be done in the future to improve membership.

Q – Will the Bylaw amendments be effective immediately after the approval of the EGM?

A – Yes, the results will be known after the Platform closes on Sunday 16 May 2021, and once the four Scrutineers verify the result and WONCA President, Dr Donald Li, signs it. If the motion passes, then the changes are effective immediately.

2. Proposed Amendments

Q – Could we instead add a clause to the Bylaws mentioning the extraordinary situation of the Covid-19 pandemic? 
A – In order for WONCA to make such an amendment, we would still need to call for an online EGM, which is conflicting with the Bylaws. The package of the six amendments would fit best for this situation. The key thing to note is that WONCA wants to ensure that the change in the Bylaws does not deal with only an immediate situation.
Q – Would it be possible to add “of choice” after “in-person” to highlight that if Members can attend in-person and vote, then it is a better option.   

A – The proposed amendments will enable WONCA to conduct online meetings as necessary. They do not dictate that the meeting will only be virtual; rather they allow this option. 

Q – The “voting by post” is mentioned in both the second and sixth proposed amendments to the Bylaws. So, why was it removed only in the sixth proposed amendment?

A – Bylaws are supposed to provide a framework of good governance without including too many details and specificity, which can lead to frequent changes. There are still instances that some people may consider engaging by post.

Q – Is WONCA going to describe in the Organizational Policies in which manner participation and voting can take place in a valid and confidential manner?

A – WONCA will ensure validity, confidentiality, and transparency for voting and meeting procedures. After the EGM, WONCA will describe these procedures in the Organisational Policies. However, WONCA will allow for some flexibility; processes will not be described in such details that can be prohibitive in future situations, rather they will convey the values and principles of voting and participation. 

Q – Will the proposed changes in the Bylaws mean that Regional meetings can also be held virtually in the future? Can the regional Council make these amendments before the EGM?

A – WONCA Bylaws do not define a way that the Regional meetings should be held. However, according to article 14.2.7, each Region may develop its own Bylaws and regulations provided that they are consistent with the Bylaws of WONCA World. Therefore, as soon as the proposed amendments at the World level pass, then the Regional Councils would also be able to hold their meetings virtually or in a blended way, unless there is a clause specifically prohibiting that in their Regional Bylaws. In this case, we recommend that the Regions take action and prepare proposals for the necessary amendments so that they align their Regional Bylaws with the world Bylaws after the EGM.

3. More Interaction in the Future

Q – This is a great opportunity for WONCA World to engage more with its Organizations. Has Executive considered more frequent gatherings electronically so we can talk about things that affect Members worldwide and our patients? Could WONCA hold more meetings similar to the Q&A Dialogue Sessions for all Member Organizations?

A –WONCA has been encouraged by the Q&A sessions because of the many constructive messages. More interaction and more opportunities for online discussions are important in these challenging times and in the future — this is on the WONCA agenda.

Q – This year it is easy to mention the pandemic as force majeure, but we would also need to consider regional events such as volcanic eruptions, which might disrupt travel from certain Regions. Would it be possible to consider hybrid General Assemblies for those who cannot attend for safety reasons?

A – This is about preparedness and it is something that the pandemic has taught everyone. Going forward, we would certainly need to integrate online/hybrid participation not only in cases of force majeure, but also in order to make Council more inclusive. WONCA and Member Organizations must think through innovatively and the hybrid model is something to be considered.

Q – Would there be a review of future face-to-face meetings, particularly of the Executive and Regional meetings, considering the challenge of climate change and our responsibility in regard to this?

A – WONCA is putting in place the necessary provisions to allow hybrid meetings in the future. The learning experience of this period has been very important. Planning ahead, even when everything returns to normal, we should consider people who may be disadvantaged and are not able to participate in person.

Q – In case of virtual communication is approved even for Scientific Conferences, would the time zone differences be taken into consideration?

A – In the May EGM, there will not be any live events which should not make the different time zones a problem. Nevertheless, in preparation for the EGM, WONCA organised two dialogue sessions: one with an appropriate time for the Eastern hemisphere and one for the Western hemisphere. This was done to enable all Member Organizations to participate in the dialogue. So, similar provisions will be taken in case a full Council would need to be held virtually. Moreover, while there are some sections of the Council that need live sessions, other items of the agenda can be dealt with by providing pre-recorded explanatory materials.

Q – Could WONCA make local times easier to be found?

A –The Secretariat will make sure to make the local time more visible to Member Organization so that the participation is easier.

4. Shared Resources

Q –Would it be possible for Regions to use the Platform of WONCA to hold Regional meetings? Would it be possible to use a shared, central and simple system?

A – WONCA understand that support is needed, and the Secretariat will support the Regions in any way possible. However, one solution will not always fit all purposes. For example, in the EGM in May, WONCA will use a piece of software and a certain consulting company; in the case of a full virtual Council more complex software and procedures would be necessary. The Secretariat is available to provide support, advice, and consultation on what would be the most appropriate solution for each Region. WONCA Executive Committee will also discuss how to make more efficient use of the Organization’s different platforms across Regions.

Q – Will WONCA consider developing an efficient digital platform for day-to-day activities and achievement of milestones for all of WONCA Regions?

A – This is indeed the direction that WONCA is moving towards and has already experimented with a few digital platforms. WONCA will be engaging professional providers with experience in conducting digital meetings, assemblies and voting. It is also very important for WONCA to consider the technology guaranteeing that it is user-friendly and accessible even in settings where internet is not reliable.

Q – Would it be possible to extend the Zoom rights for having continuing medical education between the different Regions?

A – Sharing resources is strongly supported. WONCA has run webinars and involved Working Parties and Special Interest Groups to join, especially during these challenging times where physical meetings are difficult. 

Did not find an answer to a question you have?

Please do email the Secretariat at [email protected] with any additional questions you might have.