Themes from the Symposium
As a result of opening up the space for participants to advance what most requires our shared attention, and through a series of structured group exercises, the following themes emerged:
- Access: For all women to midwifery care, and for all aspiring midwives to the CPM profession
- Consumers: The role and impact of this essential voice
- Disparities: Eliminating infant mortality, and the role CPM’s must play, must be at the forefront of the effort to end perinatal disparities.
- Racism: Recognizing that midwifery belongs to all women and that the racism endemic in our culture must be eradicated in the midwifery profession because of its negative impact on women of color who aspire to become midwives. The work group that formed in response to this theme has created a website to organize their action and encourage engagement here.
- Funding: Economic support and resources are critical for the movement.
- Education: Innovation necessary to increase access to education, support for preceptors and research, and increase the number of student of color and the number of midwife instructors of color as critical to increasing the number of CPM’s.
- Payment: Midwives must be compensated for their work and the role of policy and Medicaid must be leveraged.
- Collaboration: Increasing the power of the movement, through trust, respect and joining of effort among the sister organizations.
- Licensure: Essential to the sustainability and advancement of the CPM profession.
- Unity: One voice for the midwifery profession in the U.S.
- Public Relations: Public outreach and branding with a consistent message.
In making room for the courageous conversations that are needed to allow midwifery in the U.S. to move forward and more effectively serve women and families, two issues emerged loudly and clearly. A poignant longing and call for unity in the midwifery profession in the U.S. formed the foundation of many of the Symposium discussions. And the midwives and women of color in attendance directly and candidly shared their experiences, which are too often not taken seriously, of working and living as midwives, educators, consumers, parents and advocates in a society plagued with racism that devalues and creates barriers in their lives, roles and contributions to practicing effectively and to serving their community. We were reminded of the evidence that the birth outcome disparities so often cited are the result of systemic racism in our culture, and that midwifery is part of this culture. This expression brought mixed emotions and for many, evoked the deep discomfort that often accompanies the airing of these issues, but it also created renewed energy and commitment to address and dismantle racism within the profession and within organizations, to enable us to work together as allies and effect change.