Young Midwifery Leaders on Midwives’ Needs

During the ICM Congress we had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of the midwives enrolled in the Young Midwifery Leaders (YML) program. They were all eager to share their thoughts on midwives’ needs in their respective communities, such as more support and greater career path opportunities. They also talked about the Congress being a great platform for them to meet other midwives and share valuable knowledge with each other.

Young Midwife Leader Linvell Chirwa from Malawi

Young Midwife Leader Massoma Jafari from Afghanistan

Young Midwife Leader Jigme Choden from Afghanistan

Young Midwife Leader Samara Ferrara from Mexico

Girls’ Globe is at the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada. See all of the Girls’ Globe LIVE coverage here

Fathers’ Role in Achieving Gender Equality

Women in OECD countries spend, on average, 4.5 hours per day doing unpaid work such as cooking and caring for children. This compares to about 2 hours for men. Even if the division of unpaid labor has become more equal over the years, women are still doing more, and this results in unequal health outcomes for everyone.

“Women, even full-time working women, spend fewer hours on average doing paid work than their husbands or partners do. That may be due in part to the fact that there’s this expectation or default arrangement where they are doing more of the child care or housework.” – Kim Parker, Pew Research Center

When I attended WABA’s Global Breastfeeding Forum in October 2016, I was a struck by Duncan Fisher’s (Family Initiative UK) enthusiasm towards fathers’ role in advancing breastfeeding progress globally.

In this year’s International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Congress, I was pleased to see that Fisher was invited to a plenary session on women’s rights where he spoke about engaging fathers in maternal and newborn health, and the impact this has on advancing gender equality. Because, as Fisher put it, “the unequal sharing of caring roles is a major global driver of gender inequality”. And we know for sure that gender inequality damages both the physical and mental health of millions of women and girls worldwide.

Fathers are interested, they want information and they do want to be close to their children. Why then are women still the ones taking on the majority of the responsibility, and what consequences does this have? According to Fisher, there is a lack of public information and services directed at the fathers. They simply don’t know about all the benefits of engaging in caring for their children.

The evidence is out there – and it’s abundant!

Everyone wins when fathers engage, both in the short and long-term:

  • a father’s testosterone levels drop after the baby is born if he is physically present with the baby (i.e. cuddling!)
  • his oxytocin levels rise and so does the baby’s
  • breastfeeding rates increase
  • maternal mortality rates reduce
  • the mental health of mother and child improves
  • access to services improve
  • violence and abuse decrease

Fisher spoke about the neurobiological impact involvement has not only on the father’s brain, but also the mother’s. Caring for babies changes the brains of both parents, and the change lasts for the rest of their lives. And the more a parent cares for their baby, the more their brain changes. As if this wasn’t evidence enough: the more the parents’ brain changes, the better the child’s social skills are when they reach school.

Fisher also stressed the importance of midwives in fathers’ engagement, and said that midwives play an imperative role in encouraging fathers to cuddle skin-to-skin with their babies within the first few hours of life, and in informing men of the benefits of their involvement.

The unequal division of the responsibility of caring for, managing and educating children is unsustainable, and it undeniably affects mothers’ and babies’ health. Mothers should not be solely responsible for caring for their families – fathers must engage in order for us to achieve optimal health for women and children, as well as gender equality.

I am certain that the redistribution and reduction of unpaid care work and improved gender equality at home will improve quality of life, not only for women, but also for children and men. It most certainly is a win-win situation.

Family Initiative UK have launched an online course delivered by midwives and trainers which explores these issues. If you’re present in Toronto at this year’s ICM Congress, make sure to visit Family Initiative UK’s booth and learn more about the course! 

Girls’ Globe is at the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada. See all of the Girls’ Globe LIVE coverage here

Talking Midwives & Human Rights with Kate Gilmore

“We are all born equal in dignity and in rights and in this there is no north or south, no right or left.”

This was the message Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations, shared with the midwives, parents, supporters & advocates gathered at the ICM Congress in Toronto.

Addressing the need to support women’s and girls’ rights to make a positive difference in our world, she spoke passionately about the need for more humanity, especially in the face of great division and distrust. Today, there are more people on the move within and across national boundaries than ever before, and we see more inequity and injustice than ever before too.

We must, Gilmore insisted, accompany those who bear inequality’s harshest burdens. We must accompany all those the world seeks to deny, exclude or deprive of their fundamental human rights. Midwives are essential creators of the solidarity and unity the world needs so desperately to see. I had a chance to talk with Kate Gilmore to hear more about the role of midwifery in fostering greater humanity and compassion.

We are all born with the same set of human rights, and every single one of us bears a responsibility to defend the rights of others along with our own. This might sound like a colossal task, but there are simple actions all of us can take in our everyday lives.

Girls’ Globe is at the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada. See all of the Girls’ Globe LIVE coverage here

Meet the Midwife for Life Award Winners

The Save the Children and ICM Midwife for Life Award is an international recognition of exceptional midwives. Presented this morning at the ICM Congress by Patricia Erb, CEO of Save the Children Canada, the award seeks to recognise those who show great vision and leadership in midwifery. Two new winners were announced and I had the opportunity to speak with them about their achievements.

Amina Sultani, from Afghanistan, is a midwifery specialist for the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health and Vice President of the Afghanistan Midwives Association.

Loveluck Mwasha, from Tanzania, who has been a steadfast advocate for, and a mentor to, midwives in Tanzania for many years. She’s the Vice President of the Tanzania Midwives Association and a midwifery teacher.

Girls’ Globe is at the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada. See all of the Girls’ Globe LIVE coverage here

Top Tips for Successful Storytelling!

As part of the pre-ICM Congress activities, Girls’ Globe – in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson – organized and hosted a Social and Digital Media Training for young midwives enrolled in the Young Midwifery Leaders (YML) programme. The aim of the training session was to equip young people with the tools they need to engage in social and digital media both during and after the 31st ICM Triennial Congress. The young midwives also learned skills that will allow them to advocate more effectively for midwifery in their communities and globally.

Here are our top tips for creating successful and powerful messages!

These apply not only to YMLs at the ICM Congress, but to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, who would like to improve their storytelling skills. Here we go!

Blogging Tips

#1: Define your passion: write something you care about and tell a human-centered story.

#2: Ask yourself why? Why is this story/your passion important to share with others?

#3: Think quality! Reference correctly, include sources, use pictures you’re allowed to use, have someone edit your work.

#4: Keep it simple and short! Avoid technical language and avoid repetition.

#5: Dare to be yourself and know that your voice, your opinions and your story matter.

#6: Encourage readers to take action – include relevant handles and hashtags!

#7: Share your post and get engaged in online conversations

Creative Digital Storytelling Tips

#1: Use your creativity! And always remember: be yourself! 

#2: Good lightning and good sound. Preferably shoot in daylight and check that your microphone is working properly.

#3: Always have nice background and settings – avoid a white wall. Sit in front of your colourful bookcase, stand on the sidewalk in your city get comfortable in your garden.

#4: Use the right mode – portrait or horizontal – for the respective channels you’ll be using.

#5: Edit your video to make the most out of it. There are several apps and tools that you can use to make it more lively.

Digital Media and Advocacy Tips

#1: Know what’s up and be heard! Stay up-to-date use relevant handles and hashtags.

#2: Stay true to yourself – be your creative self and remember, your perspective is unique.

#3: Go live! Use Facebook Live and/or Instagram Live when capturing a speaker verbatim in real time.

#4: Know the facts! Take notes during events you’re sharing stories from, and make sure that what you’re sharing is accurate.

#5: Get visual! Add photos and videos to increase visibility and offer your own perspective.

Are you ready to put these into practice? Submit your application to become a Girls’ Globe Blogger and join our global network of engaged women and girls from all over the world!

Meet Midwife Dorcas: training to save lives at birth

In celebration of midwives worldwide, Kupona Foundation colleague, Dorcas – a midwife trainer at our sister organization, CCBRT – shares how her team is ensuring mothers and babies in the Dar es Salaam region survive and thrive.

Being a Midwife is Something Precious

“For the past 37 years, being a midwife has meant doing everything I can to save the lives of mothers and babies in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam.

Midwife Dorcas, photographed by Sala Lewis

Tanzania has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Approximately 22 women die every day from mostly preventable complications in pregnancy or childbirth1. For the last 6 years, my team and I have worked to strengthen the quality of care provided in 23 health facilities in the Dar es Salaam region with the ultimate goal of seeing that mortality statistic reduced to zero.

As the Senior Midwife Trainer for CCBRT’s  Maternal and Newborn Health Capacity Building Team, I train medical teams in all 23 of our partner facilities. I work to empower the maternal health teams already in those facilities with the mentoring, training and resources they need to save more lives. Last year, we learned maternal mortality had reduced by 40% in the Dar es Salaam region thanks to our efforts, partnerships, and the support of the Government of Tanzania.”

High Quality Maternal Health Care for Every Woman

“I divide my time between three regional hospitals, smaller dispensaries, and health centers. The volume of patients at each facility varies depending on the day, but the goal is the same: provide the best care possible to mothers and babies. And that’s why I’m here.

One of these facilities serves 70,000 people, and hosts monthly antenatal care clinics for over 700 pregnant women. CCBRT has supported this hospital since 2011. We began by performing an SBMR (Standards Based Management and Recognition)2 assessment to identify the facility’s quality of care. This facility scored 2% (perfection is a score of 100%). While staff were dedicated to helping mothers and babies, they did not have the equipment, tools, and skills to provide high-quality care to their patients.

We began by working with staff to collect data on current operations, find the gaps in equipment and skills, and identify the key issues. We then hosted training to address the root cause of the problem and teach the intervention needed to solve it.

In November 2015, the facility’s quality of care had improved to 87% on the SBMR assessment. I was so proud. In 2011, the facility delivered 406 babies. As the skills and confidence of their service providers increased, so did the number of babies they delivered. In 2015, the hardworking staff surpassed this goal and assisted with 1,386 deliveries, with zero maternal deaths.

When I go back to the facility, I see the entire team is busy attending to patients. The matron is managing her team efficiently, and it has been fantastic to witness her growth as a leader over the years. As soon as a new staff member joins the team, they receive an orientation of the SBMR tool so that they understand the metrics we use. I see staff members, once young and inexperienced, assisting in the labor ward, performing their tasks expertly and respectfully.

I always say, it’s a long journey. But in this long journey, you cannot go by yourself. You need to have people around you. Collaborate with them. Do things together, work together to serve one goal. I’m proud to say that this is what we do with our partner facilities, each and every day, on the CCBRT Capacity Building team.”

Kupona Foundation empowers people and communities in Tanzania by improving their access to quality healthcare. 100% of our resources are dedicated to the continuation and sustainable growth of our sister organization in Tanzania, CCBRT. Since 2009, Kupona has raised over $3 million to support treatment, training, capital projects and organizational development at CCBRT. In that time, CCBRT has provided over 75,000 life changing surgeries for correctable impairments, over 570,000 clinical consultations, and, through training and capacity building efforts, has supported the safe delivery of over 550,000 babies. Learn more at kuponfoundation.org.

  1. Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2010, National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzania, April 2011, Dar es Salaam
  2. Measured by Standards-Based Management and Recognition (SBMR) assessments, developed by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University.

Girls’ Globe will be present at the 31st International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress – bringing you live coverage from Toronto, Canada via our #ICMLive hub. To keep up to date with all the action, use #ICMLive to join in online.