WONCA Women active in 2011, more planned in 2012

The Wonca Working Party on Women and Family Medicine (WWPWFM) has been active in regional meetings in 2011, and is looking forward to a productive 2012.

Triennial meeting coming in 2012

WWPWFM has a tradition (well all of a six year tradition ) of mid triennial meetings when the action plan is reviewed, major issues discussed , policy statements developed, and planning activities for the next World Wonca conference. They are a few days of intense work and collaboration.

The 2006 meeting in Hamilton, Canada produced the Hamilton Equity Recommendations (HER) statement which was subsequently adopted by Wonca World Council, in Singapore, in 2007, along with the 10 Steps to Gender Equity in Health. This meeting also started the process of the by- laws revision, which were adopted in 2012.

The 2009 meeting, in Norwich, produced the Gender Equity Standards for Scientific meetings (GES statement) which was adopted by Wonca World Council, in Cancun, in 2010, as well as the LEAD statement by young women doctors. Preparations in Norwich meant that Wonca World conference, in Cancun, had a dedicated women’s track with 16 workshops, as well as the preconference.

The 2012 proposed meeting will be in early September, in Canberra, Australia, and despite the very tight financial circumstances of the moment, we are hoping to raise additional funds for bursary support. There will be further information about this in Wonca news, and on the WWPWFM list serve.

We are also actively planning WWPWFM work at Wonca regional conferences in 2012. In the Asia- Pacific conference in Jeju, we will be running a workshop for young women doctors in conjunction with the Rajakumar preconference, and also workshops during the main conference. There will be WWPWFM in Europe (Vienna) and Africa (Victoria Falls). The most recent regional activities have been in Mumbai and Wonca Europe (Warsaw)

Co-presenters in Mumbai, Dr Carmel Fernandopulle (2nd from left), and Dr Shreen Willatgamuwa (3rd from left) with other participants.

WWPWFM at Mumbai.

I was delighted to attend the inaugural South Asia Wonca meeting in Mumbai, and would like to congratulate the organisers on an interesting, varied, and engaging program. From my perspective, it was great to see that the practice of chairing each session by a team of male and female family physicians has caught on, and to see women doctors speaking and participating in plenary sessions.

The WWPWFM workshop was co presented by colleagues from Sri Lanka, Dr Shreen Willatgamuwa and Dr Carmel Fernandopulle. They presented their stories in ‘A Day in the Life of a Female Family Physician’. Their personal stories touched on many issues that resonated with the group in the discussion afterwards - a diversity of clinical works and settings, the challenges of being a female doctor in a sometimes all otherwise male world; balancing family and work, and a deep engagement in community work.

In the very interesting ‘talking circle’ that we finished the workshop with, one of the major issues in the region that was brought up was the challenge of empowering women patients. Those present shared their experiences, and discussed strategies and resources that help them help their women patients.

Prof Amanda Barnard

Wonca europe Warsaw, september 2011

Warsaw provided an interesting and hospitable city for this very successful conference. You cannot be in Poland without being acutely aware of the impacts of history: I passed through the old ghetto area to reach the meeting, seeing political graffiti and other street art on the high rise buildings and apartment walls. One featured a naked torso of a woman mounted in a glass box at second floor level, past which were abseiling disinterested window cleaners. A sense of surreal and odd undercurrents continued when I went south to see Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau: recent trauma, brutality and death were all around in Poland, and an important reminder of how easy it is for inequity in society to lead to disaster.

WWPWFM session in Warsaw

I was delighted to be offered three parallel sessions by the conference organisers, who spontaneously approached Working Party leads to invite them to offer speakers and sessions for peer review. This is a win-win for organisers as they should get good speakers with well linked material that champions Wonca issues, and possibly adds to delegates who might not otherwise have attended!

I invited Professor Toine Lagro- Janssen, of Nijmegen University, to put together one parallel, which she titled Gender and health – women’s health in General Practice; and Prof Leo Pas co-ordinated one titled Dealing with family violence: from action to research and reverse. I personally ran one with a group of younger female doctors called Resilience and Doctors’ Wellbeing, where we looked at career facilitators and problems, and also health threats and selfcare. All were very well attended and well received.

As yet I have not had a similar invitation for 2012, but have put work in for Vienna and will ensure we have a presence there, while Prague in 2013 will be a focus for the wider group as it is the World conference. Look forward to seeing many of you there, or in London at RCGP any time you are coming that way!

Prof Amanda Howe Past