Prof. Amanda Howe to give a keynote lecture!

International Women’s Day March 8 2015 – a message from the President-Elect

The Istanbul conference team have asked me to write a short greeting to you all to celebrate this special day! I am writing this following a day at the WONCA Asia Pacific conference in Taipei – where there were many women’s health issues on the agenda, including how to get effective screening uptake for women from migrant communities – and several events run under the banner of the WWP for Women and Family Medicine. One of them was about perspectives on lifecycle transitions and resilience in women family doctors, which is an ongoing project that will lead into a workshop at Istanbul.

There were many women doctors at the meeting, including a large delegation from Mongolia where most of the family doctors are female. I also saw many of my younger colleagues making a substantive academic and professional contribution, for example through the Rajakumar meeting and presenting their own work. It made me feel that WONCA is being successful about engaging young doctors from both sexes to develop their leadership potential. We need to do this at home as well as conferences of course!

In terms of keynotes there was a mix of men and women, with myself and Doris Young giving plenaries. I found myself the only woman on the platform with a large panel of both hosts and visiting experts at one point, but there was a discussion about organizational equity in the Asia Pacific Council, and there was clearly more debate about equity in general within the meeting – age, economic advantage, urban vs. rural, as well as gender issues all being raised.

The life we live is often affected by our culture and upbringing and opportunities, in which our sex is a pivotal aspect. But in my lifetime I have seen a wonderful change for women doctors – more of them, doing more across all specialities and career levels, and more entering leadership roles. We have to keep on with this change, challenge negative stereotypes, explain how we can maximise our potential, and keep being very conscious of what we do ourselves to block or create change. WONCA has really raised my awareness of the issues form women doctors, and our conferences are a great time to exchange views and research, get support and new ideas, and to refresh ourselves. So have a great International Women’s Day – and see you in Istanbul?!

Prof. Amanda Howe, president-elect of WONCA (2013-16) is scheduled to give a keynote lecture in Istanbul. Please find below a short outline from Prof. Howe regarding her lecture.

WONCA was officially founded in 1972, with 18 founding organizations. 42 years on, it has 126 member countries, 7 active regions - each with its own Young Doctors Movement-, and is a recognized non-governmental organization for the World Health Organization. Nevertheless, we are still a young group in terms of our financial stability and effective expertise. If we thought of ourselves on a lifeline, we might be in young adulthood – now able to see what is needed to live a good life, but with an uncertain future; still trying to develop mature partnerships, and with many choices still to make.

This talk will address issues of what we can learn from our history and current profile; it will look at the strengths and weaknesses of the state of family medicine worldwide, and of the challenges that face our members. I shall draw on the literature on effective leadership, and on our breadth of experience of what helps success in organizations, to take lessons about how WONCA can live a fully and secure adult life, in good health, and with a conscious quest for refreshment while achieving our collective ambitions. I shall also explore my own contribution as your President –Elect to that goal!




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