Defenders of Women’s Rights

Sunday 5 May is the International Day of the Midwife! On this day, we recognise the important work that is undertaken by midwives all around the world. The care and services provided by midwives to women throughout all stages of their pregnancy are truly one of a kind.

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The theme for International Day of the Midwife 2019 is ‘Midwives: Defenders of Women’s Rights’… But what exactly does this mean?

We asked some UTS Midwifery students to tell us what this means to them.

Josephine Steel (2nd year student, Bachelor of Midwifery):

“Midwives defend the rights of women by amplifying their voice. They empower women through education, reminding them of their power to make decisions regarding their pregnancy and birth.”

Anita Fowler (3rd year student, Bachelor of Midwifery):

“To me, the theme Midwives: Defenders of Women’s Rights means advocating for the woman within the healthcare system, which is pivotal at a time when women are often vulnerable in an unfamiliar environment. This leads to facilitating her empowerment to be involved in decision making about her and her baby’s care, which is critical to enable successful transition to strong motherhood and recognition of her as a guardian of future generations.”

Jessica Tripp (3rd year student, Bachelor of Midwifery):

“Midwives, as the defenders of women’s rights, means advocating for women and empowering them to be the primary decision makers during their pregnancy and birth. It means showing women how powerful they are and making them believe in themselves in a society that constantly questions and undermines their strength.”

Jennifer Goth (3rd year student, Bachelor of Midwifery):

“Through education and advocacy, midwives promote health and self-determination in women and their communities. Through education, women are able to make the choices that are right for themselves, their bodies and their families. These choices aren’t limited to physical health, but also mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Midwives step in and advocate for women, when they haven’t found their voice, or don’t not have a voice. This is how midwives support and uphold human rights for women.”

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The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) states that this year’s theme will “celebrate and advocate for the many ways that midwives defend, protect and stand up for the rights of women, girls and midwives around the world”.

However, not only does the ICM recognise the pivotal role of midwives in fighting for gender equality, the organisation also asks us to reflect on the right of a midwife to practice in a safe environment.

Many midwives work in workplaces where abuse and bullying is rampant. Even worse are the stories about midwives overseas being killed simply for doing their job. Thus, this International Day of the Midwife, let us take this opportunity to reflect on the invaluable work of the midwives in helping women and newborns all around the world whilst also acknowledging the long fight ahead to ensure that the rights of these midwives are met.

Until we defend their rights, midwives cannot fully defend the rights of women all around the world.

For more information about this important day, please head to the official website of the International Day of the Midwife.

Find out more about midwifery at UTS

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