Paris je t’aime – Convention Bureau met Pr. Philippe Descamps, Vice-Chair of the FIGO. He spoke to us about the 2023 edition, with its record attendance and fine legacy programme.
FIGO is the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. It comprises 135 national learned societies across the 5 continents and it encompasses all the specialities related to women's health. All aspects of obstetrics and gynaecology, whether scientific or advocacy for women's rights around the world.
When a conference is held in Paris, it attracts 30 % more delegates than any other city. This was a strong argument in our bid, and it proved true.
The Paris bid had some very strong attributes, not least the fact that it was being hosted at the Porte de Versailles Convention Centre, a venue I know well because we hold our annual French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF) congress there. It's a very practical convention centre, with several platforms that can be adapted to the size of the event. There's a good selection of hotels nearby and, most importantly, it's very close to the centre of Paris. You leave the convention centre, walk down the steps to the metro and immediately you're in the heart of Paris! A lot of convention centres in other capitals are very far away. In Paris, this proximity is much appreciated!
It is, of course, also a genuine recognition of the work and excellence of the CNGOF. During the selection process, we had also asked a young obstetrics and gynaecology intern to come and give a vision of young people, and that was much appreciated.
An enormous challenge! It's not easy to get interns to come here, because they have to juggle the requirements of their department, on-call duty, and family commitments (in gynaecology in particular, where 80% of interns are young women). But getting them to come is not impossible, you just have to find the right way to do it!
All day Friday 12 Occtober was devoted to them. The idea was to put them in touch with the world's elite in obstetrics and gynaecology, without no language barriers, as we had simultaneous translation. They got to know each other, took part in workshops together and spent evenings together. It's a good bet for the future: they are the leaders of tomorrow and it's very important to show them the usefulness of this type of event. It also helps them realize just how important mobility and experience abroad can be, and how much they can gain from it. It's also a way of opening up their minds.
We organized a charity evening at the end of the day, after the scientific session, to showcase local initiatives and encourage people to support them financially.
For us, ‘legacy’ is really the idea that the conference leaves a mark, that something endures, that there is a benefit for great causes, locally. We chose violence against women, migrant women and endometriosis research. Taking advantage of the presence of delegates, a large audience of experts, is a way of showcasing initiatives, raising awareness, and encouraging participation or funding. It's also important that it works both ways: that the local organizations and personalities we want to highlight are also aware of the FIGO. It is the idea that holding the conference in a city is an opportunity for the ideas conveyed to resonate far beyond the conference centre!
Organizing this conference was a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was lucky to have the opportunity to take part in this event. I spent a lot of time there, but it was a privilege, and it turned out to be a great success.
In conclusion, I'd say that ... Paris is a source of attraction, that Paris is magical, and all the more so with the fine weather we were lucky enough to have!