|From the Midwives Alliance of North America:Happy International Midwives Day!
The Road to Durban: Midwives Walking for the Women of the World
Last year Bridget Lynch, President of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), called on the midwives of the world to attend the triennial ICM Congress to be held in Durban, South Africa in June 2011. The ICM also called on 99 member associations in 88 countries representing more than 250,000 midwives to organize 5 kilometer walks in cities and towns across the world on International Midwives Day, May 5. On June 18 when the midwives of the world gather for the ICM Congress, they will complete the walk into the city of Durban in celebration of our commitment to improving maternal and newborn health globally.
This is the first time in the ICM’s history the Congress is being held in sub-Saharan Africa. This is a particularly significant opportunity for the ICM to bring visibility to midwives. The Congress will be taking place in an area of the world with the highest rates of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. With only five years left to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and improve maternal and newborn health globally, now is the time to highlight the central role of midwives in achieving these goals! In locations across the globe today, midwives and midwifery supporters are “Walking the Road to Durban” in solidarity. http://www.midwives2011.org/Congress/TheRoadtoDurban.aspx
Bringing the Message Home in the United States
Women in the U.S. are more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than in 49 other countries, including nearly all European countries, Canada, and several countries in Asia and the Middle East. Worse yet, the maternal mortality ratio for American Indian/Alaska Native women is four times higher than the Healthy People 2010 goal (the national target set by the government) and eight times higher for African American women. Maternal mortality is the death of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy (up to 42 days postpartum) and is calculated as the number of maternal deaths per one hundred thousand live births. The U.S. average rate was reported to be 13.3 deaths per 100,000 lives births according to Amnesty International’s 2010 report, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.”
In some places, and among some populations, maternal mortality is much higher. For example, in the state of Georgia the rate is 20.5 deaths per 100,000 births; in Washington, D.C., it is 34.9 deaths per 100,000 births; and in New York City, the ratio for Black women is 83.6 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to Amnesty International’s report.
More Midwives Mean Better Outcomes
As the ICM points out, “The world needs midwives now more than ever.” It is becoming increasingly clear that midwifery can be a solution to the outrageous statistics that continue to plague a nation that spends billions of health care dollars on maternity services alone. America also needs midwives now more than ever. MANA’s new strategic directions directly address the state of maternal and infant health care in America.
This International Midwives Day, MANA members across the nation have organized walks, rallies, and events to bring attention to the midwives’ role in helping decrease maternal mortality. We want to highlight some of the events members of MANA’s Midwives of Color Section have gone to tremendous lengths to host which highlight the plight of mothers-both nationally and internationally-as we stand in sisterhood and solidarity with all midwives facing tremendous odds. We are ready, we are here; The Walk to Durban begins today.
The Road to Durban: Events Across the Country-
- Phoenix, AZ. Marinah Farell in conjunction with MIRA (Migrant Inner-city and Rural Aid) and other midwives from the Arizona Association of Midwives are joining a solidarity walk with 100 Physicians participating in a White Coat march at the capital in protest of Arizona’s immigration laws.
- Chiapas, Mexico. Corinne “Coco” Pierre-Louis and Luna Maya Birth Centerwalking at San Cristobal de las Casas. www.lunamaya.org
- Orlando, FL. Jennie Joseph and The Birth Place are hosting a Rally at Lake Eola Park with City of Orlando Commissioner Ings, Central Florida Friends of Midwives and Central Florida Birth Network. Nashville, TN. Carlotta Crawford of ICTC
- Nashville and Harmony Family Health Care is hosting a Meet the Midwives event and Rally at Fannie Mae Dees Park (Dragon Park).
- Los Angeles, CA. Haize Rosen is hosting a Walk/ Rally with ‘Mamas, Midwives and Celebrities’. Press and radio spots will be present.
- Dorchester/ Roxbury, MA. Makeda Kamara is hosting a walk at Franklin Park
- Washington, DC. Claudia Booker – is celebrating the day with a free, all day “Midwifery and Birth Film Festival” on Saturday, May 7, 2011 from 2:00 PM until 10:00 PM at the ECAC (Emergence Community Arts Collective) 733 Euclid Street NW, Washington DC 20010 www.ecacollective.org
- Miami, FL. Jamarah Amani and Birthworkers of Color United, a local collective of midwives, doulas, childbirth educators and breastfeeding counselors, are leading mothers and community in a rally on 33rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard in Miami to mark the International Day of the Midwife.
- Espanola, NM. Michelle Peixinho, Tewa Women United and Young Women United are joining together to walk in solidarity with all midwives around the world approximately three miles through Española starting at the Northern New Mexico College and ending at 507 W. Pueblo, the potential site of Española’s future free-standing birth center!
- Lansing, MI. A walk/race is scheduled to take place at Hawk Island Park, starts with a pep rally, includes a kids’ 400 meter fun run, awards and a picnic lunch! In mid-day a Council of Midwives will be convened. The day ends with a concert at the Gone Wired Café.
We Are All in This Together
We must make certain women in the U.S. have access to the best care that protects their physical and emotional integrity, ensuring not just survival, but providing experiences that are conscious, informed, satisfying, and memorable. It takes all of us, moms, babies, families and communities are depending on us.
Join together on International Midwives Day!
Jennie Joseph, Midwives of Color Section Chair
Geradine Simkins, President and Interim Executive Director
MANA Board of Directors