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Friday Podcasts From ECSP and MHI
At the nexus of global environmental change, security, development, and health
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March 19, 2021 06:41 AM PDT

“The more the United States can get itself back on track, the better position it is in to exercise climate leadership,” says Sue Biniaz, a member of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s team, in today’s Friday Podcast. Biniaz spoke about the Biden-Harris administration’s international climate policy at a recent Wilson Center event on climate security risks in the Arctic.

In her remarks, Biniaz outlined four overarching themes in President Biden’s January 27th Executive Order: renewing the United States’ climate objectives; exercising U.S. climate leadership; raising global climate ambition; and putting climate at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Rejoining the Paris Agreement and re-upping the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—national climate action plans where parties to the Paris Agreement are set to maintain national emission targets and implement policies and measures in response to climate change—are “key elements” towards getting the United States back on track for climate action. But it’s also about raising ambition. After the Paris Agreement’s focus on keeping temperature rise below 2ºC, the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC made clear the need to increase the scale and speed of climate action, says Biniaz. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no conference of the parties (COP) and countries didn’t revisit their NDCs in 2020 as planned. This creates added pressure, but also opportunity for 2021, says Biniaz, because determining a new collective temperature goal, a timeline for achieving net zero emissions, and increasing 2030 emission targets will be addressed and dealt with.

To exercise U.S. climate leadership, says Biniaz, the Biden administration is “making climate change a priority and integrating it into both bilateral diplomacy and a wide range of international fora.” This includes reconvening the Major Economies Forum—a meeting of countries that represent about 80 percent of global emissions, population, and GDP—and holding a Leaders’ Climate Summit held on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.

The appointment of John Kerry as the first-ever special presidential envoy for climate is another demonstration of U.S. leadership. “Our whole team has been actively involved in climate diplomacy in the last several weeks, both to align on goals and to try to raise ambition particularly among the major economies.” Kerry has been pressing countries, at least the major economies, to commit to net zero emissions no later than 2050 and to “not only to commit to the goal but to say here's how we intend to get there.”

In her September 2020 contribution to a Wilson Center and adelphi project, 21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy is Climate Policy, Biniaz wrote, “Climate change has too many sources, on the one hand, and implications, on the other, to be either ignored or treated as a niche issue with little or no bearing on other fields.” “The Executive Order makes very clear,” Biniaz says, “climate change is at the center of foreign policy and national security.”

March 12, 2021 08:00 AM PST

“I've been quite impressed by the wide diversity and complexity of young women's and men's engagement for peacebuilding and development often while confronting seemingly insurmountable challenges,” says Marisa O. Ensor, Adjunct Professor in the Justice and Peace Studies Program at Georgetown University, in this week’s Friday Podcast.

In her new edited volume, “Securitizing Youth: Young People's Roles in the Global Peace and Security Agenda,” contributors cover a wide set of topics that impact youth, peace, and security, including violence, gender dynamics, social media, climate change, and forced displacement. Young people's position in society is shaped by a number of variables, like age, gender, ethnicity, and religion, says Ensor. This means that the experiences of young women are very different from those of their male counterparts. Yet, often the term “youth” tends to be equated with males. “The category of female youth is not even recognized in some parts of the world,” says Ensor. At the same time, she says, the term “gender” continues to be equated with women. “This remains highly problematic.”

The number of youth today is larger than it has been at any other time in human history, but it is not evenly distributed across the globe. 600 million young people live in conflict-affected regions, and youth make up a majority of the population in the world's least developed countries. If one hopes to understand the situation on the ground in these countries, one absolutely needs to pay attention to the experiences of youth, says Ensor. It's also important to avoid essentializing youth, she says, because they don't constitute a monolithic or homogenous category any more than their older counterparts.

“Pathways to peace can take many different forms in different parts of the world,” says Ensor. She’d like to see more investments and partnerships when it comes to young people’s inclusion in broader security and peacebuilding initiatives and dialogues. “We need to acknowledge the multiple barriers—structural and cultural barriers—that constrain young people's meaningful inclusion,” she says. Young people, even when they lack the experience, connections, or resources, still bring energy and enthusiasm and their particular kind of knowledge of the situation on the ground. “This must be recognized and valued with young people viewed as equal and essential partners.”

Narratives on global youth remain saturated with concerns of youth as a threat and liability. In response to this, Ensor says, “We need to bear in mind that resilience is not the opposite of vulnerability.” Young women and men can be both vulnerable and resilient, often simultaneously, especially in the less developed, fragile contexts where the majority of them live, she says. “Policy and programming must be informed by these much more complex realities if they are to be inclusive and effective and sustainable.”

March 04, 2021 11:28 AM PST

“It's more than just clinical care. It's cultural. It's connection to country. It's connection to land. It's all of those things that are important to the woman and family, kinship, babies,” says Mel Briggs, a First Nations midwife in Australia, speaking about the importance of Aboriginal midwifery in this week’s Friday Podcast. Like her great-grandmother, Briggs followed the call to midwifery and finds joy in helping women and families “create really healthy, chunky, fat babies.”

“First Nations people of Australia hold the oldest bloodline and the oldest living culture on the planet,” says Briggs. Their midwifery practices existed long before colonization, but due to colonization, Aboriginal models of care were “taken away from us” in favor of Western medical models, she says. Australia is currently home to 30,000 dual registered nurse-midwives, but only 300 identify as Aboriginal.

A history of colonization has impacted birth practices and led to poor health outcomes in First Nations communities. For example, the introduction of Western foods into Aboriginal communities has led to high rates of chronic diseases, like obesity. Chronic illnesses affect maternal health and often lead to pregnancies being considered high-risk. For Briggs, this means the women she supports don’t have the option to birth at home and must birth in a hospital setting. “When you look at the medical model, it’s not the woman’s fault that these things have happened to them. It’s the society and it’s the models that have done this,” says Briggs. Older generations of Aboriginal people “hunted and they gathered and they were healthy and fit… let’s go back to that. Let’s just do that… and then the next generation, we’ll have a generation of those women who will be able to birth at home and be healthy and well.”

Since many First Nations women give birth in hospitals, Briggs supports birthing mothers in cultural practices before and after they go to deliver. “When we're in that space, the women are actually healing, so that they can birth peacefully and calmly. And that gives them strength going into a place where they're going to be controlled,” says Briggs.

Briggs recalled a recent hospital birth experience that respectfully bridged the gap between the medical model and First Nations traditional practices. The birthing woman, who Briggs described as “strong in her culture,” told the hospital staff that when her baby was born, she didn’t want them to speak. She stressed the importance of her child’s first heard word being in her language and when her baby was born, she and Briggs said “Walawaani,” which means ‘I hope you had a safe journey.’ “It was like a big celebration,” says Briggs. “Everybody just started crying.” It was nice to include the hospital staff in Aboriginal traditions, says Briggs. “Even though we needed to use an obstetric medical, clinical intervention, it was still respecting culture. And that's what needs to happen.”

Bringing healthy babies into the world and supporting women on their motherhood journey will allow her community to “grow and thrive,” says Briggs. “It's taken a very long time, 230 years, in fact. We've been controlled and oppressed for a very long time. I just feel like, It's time. It's time for our people to thrive, and to be equal.”

February 25, 2021 01:16 PM PST

“I think most people will agree today that the development landscape is, well, it’s highly uncertain, it's increasingly complex,” says Steven Gale, Lead of the Futures/Foresight Team at the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), in this week’s Friday Podcast. “I think the future is even going to be more complex.”

“Foresight is probably the most common technique in the futures area,” says Gale. The tool has been primarily used by the private sector, the military, and the intelligence community when looking at what a possible future would look like. Foresight helps planners and decision-makers better prepare for the unexpected by not just looking at one future, but by looking at a range of futures. “The tools of foresight are especially helpful,” says Gale, “when the future you want to explore is highly uncertain, ambiguous, increasingly complex.”

Another “futures” technique often used that is similar to foresight, but much more precise, is prediction. “It's a statement of what will likely occur in the future using existing data and analytic models,” says Gale. Prediction is what you expect to happen when your hypothesis is true, data highly accurate and consistent, variables are known and agreed upon, and the future you want to predict is essentially an extension of the past, he says. “The net result is most of our professionals prefer foresight over prediction because of uncertainty and complexity.”

Foresight isn’t unique to USAID. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) also houses a Strategic Foresight Unit. Gale says that as both entities are focused on foresight for development, the USAID Foresight Unit has a lot in common with the OECD DAC. In March 2021, the U.S. and Switzerland will co-chair the DAC foresight unit’s annual event, Friends of Foresight. A number of the issues addressed will revolve around COVID-19, green and digital COVID-19 recovery, and examining what socioeconomic recovery from the pandemic will look like, says Gale.
In response to why foresight is taking on a higher profile at USAID, Gale says, “the short answer is COVID-19.” Once the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, USAID created a task force to assess and manage the more immediate challenges of COVID-19. As the task force began to look at these challenges, he says, it began to think about the next COVID-19 and established the Over the Horizon Strategic Review to not just look at the immediate impacts of COVID, but to look at a range of other possibilities.

Gale’s book on over-the-horizon development scenarios, “The Future Can’t Wait,” addresses the future of foresight, scenario planning, and what it means for development. Quoting an excerpt from former USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios, he says, “Perhaps, the most embarrassing failure of international development agencies has been their excessive focus on programming for the past problems, for the past challenges, instead of anticipating the challenges of the future.” That shortcoming, Gale says, “is precisely what foresight seeks to address.”

February 18, 2021 10:23 AM PST

When Navajo Midwife Nicolle Gonzales talks with Native American women about birth, there's a sense something is missing, she said in this week’s Friday Podcast. “But,” she said, “we don’t know what it is.” Gonzales grew up and remains on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. She became a midwife and founded the Changing Woman Initiative (CWI) to address unmet maternal health care needs in her community. She is of the Tl’aashchi’I, Red Bottom clan, born for Tachii’nii, Red Running into the Water clan, Hashk’aa hadzohi, Yucca fruit-strung-out-in-a line clan, and Naasht’ezhi dine’e, Zuni clan.

Providing quality midwifery care requires an intimate understanding of a community’s traditions, said Gonzales. For example, the Navajo Nation is a matrilineal society. This history affects Navajo women in ways that Western activists miss. “There's this whole wave of white feminism, talking about empowering women,” said Gonzales. “Like me as a Diné [Navajo] mother and a woman, like I'm already empowered because I walk side by side with my culture, my community.” The focus of Indigenous feminism is thus not forging a new egalitarian societal system but returning to the pre-colonial system in which men and women were already equal, she said.

Native American and Indigenous communities have also been shaped by past trauma, said Gonzales. The legacy of colonization has separated Native women from traditional birthing practices for two generations, leading them to lose a sense of self, she said. In addition, rates of substance use, physical and sexual violence, and mental illness are high in Native American communities. This reality poses challenges to new parents, as they must balance healing their personal traumas with the demands of child rearing, said Gonzales.

Failing to acknowledge this historical and social context has devastating consequences. In the United States, Native American mothers die at a rate two to three times higher than non-Hispanic white mothers. While tragic, these numbers are not surprising, said Gonzales, noting missed opportunities to support women during and around childbirth. “And so when we fail our women like that, of course, you know those numbers are going to look terrible,” she said, referring to maternal health outcomes.

However, when the proper, culturally informed support is provided, the birthing process can be transformational for Native American and Indigenous women, said Gonzales. By guiding families through ceremonial birthing processes, which can include using herbal medicines and birthing in a hogan (traditional dwelling), Navajo midwives help parents reconnect with their cultural heritage, serving as a bridge between a lost past and a healthier future for Navajo families.

Including communities in maternal health care is essential. Given the diversity of Native American and Indigenous communities, services must be tailored to each tribe’s customs and needs. “How is it possible that people from other states and other communities and even like organizations can make policy decisions for Native communities who've never been there who don't know what our problems are, who don't know, our traditional systems?” said Gonzales. “That doesn't feel okay to me.”

Some progress is being made. Representative Deb Haaland is the first Native American to be appointed to serve in a president’s Cabinet. This representation is incredibly important for Native American and Indigenous communities, said Gonzales. When Representative Haaland goes into spaces that are all white and she wears her traditional clothing and moccasins, she said, it’s like she's always bringing her community along, wherever she goes.

This commitment to community is at the center of Gonzales’ work. In every space, she makes the conscious effort to represent her people and “bring her ancestors into the conversation.” By doing so, she challenges the Western narrative that frames Indigenous communities as relics of the past, by focusing on the “death” of Indigenous languages, peoples, and cultures. “We're not dying,” she said. “We're not thriving either, but we're trying to.” Returning Indigenous midwifery to Native American communities, is part of this effort to thrive. “Yes, there's lots of death, but birth and mothers bring life into community,” said Gonzales. “And I help with that. Midwives help with that.”

January 22, 2021 07:08 AM PST

“The very first political order in any society is the sexual political order established between men and women,” says Valerie M. Hudson, a University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M, in today’s Friday Podcast, recorded at a recent Wilson Center launch of the book, The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide. Co-authored by Hudson, Donna Lee Bowen, Professor Emerita at Brigham Young University, and P. Lynne Nielson, a statistics professor at Brigham Young University, the book investigates how the relationship between men and women shapes the wider political order. “We argue, along with many other scholars, that the character of that first order molds the society, its governance, and its behavior,” says Hudson.

“The subordination of women, the straitjacketing of women if you will, through this Syndrome, harms not just women, but children, men, and whole societies,” says Hudson, referring to the “Patrilineal/Fraternal Syndrome.” The Syndrome, as defined by Hudson and her co-authors, is a series of interlocking mechanisms designed to keep women subordinated. These mechanisms start with the violent coercion of women by men to get what they want and loop, like magnetic beads, to systematic means of female control, such as son preference, early marriage, polygamy, bride price, and dowries. “The syndrome is really a trap,” says Hudson, and the subordinate system sets societies up for poor health, food insecurity, low economic performance, demographic woes, and a lack of attention to environmental security.

The Syndrome leads societies to unfortunate outcomes “because it’s based upon a first political order of instability, domestic instability, domestic violence, domestic terror, domestic corruption, and domestic autocracy.” Hudson says in discussing these topics with U.S. national security audiences she asks whether the audience considers themselves to be national security realists—if they believe the treatment of women does affect national security instability and if they believe that the women, peace, and security agenda is in the national interest. “Can you call yourself a realist if you don’t?” she asks. “If the U.S. isn’t tracking the situation with women, how is it going to effectively anticipate instability in other countries?”

“Let’s suppose that we accept that women matter. What would change in how we do business?” asks Hudson. Without accepting that women matter, how could the U.S. know to avoid peace negotiations that are detrimental for women; track internal threats if domestic violence isn’t viewed as domestic terror perpetration; recognize that ending child marriage globally would do more for world peace than any other investment; and know when exporting democracy could be effective, and where it’s likely to fail. “I believe that one day the idea that foreign policy or national security policy could ignore the situation of women will be seen as laughably naive,” says Hudson.

December 18, 2020 10:54 AM PST

“After a period of populist nationalism…multilateralism is back, and climate is the multilateral challenge of the moment,” said David Lammy, a member of Parliament for Tottenham in the United Kingdom and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, in a recent 21st Century Diplomacy event, co-hosted by the Wilson Center and adelphi. The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is not a “reset,” but rather a catalytic moment for the international community precisely because of the pandemic and consequences for the global economy, he said. When you look at who has been left behind in countries like the United States and United Kingdom, and globally, who is at risk climate impacts, it is “black and brown people suffering all over the planet, and that is a call to arms,” said Lammy.

While climate change poses threats to human security, climate responses can provide opportunities for human progress. “The reality is that as we face the COVID crisis, an economic crisis as a result of that, and a crisis around inequality and inclusion, we see that climate solutions, climate action, are perfectly poised right now to be drivers of job creation, growth, inclusion, sustainability, and resilience,” said Jennifer Austen, Director of Policy and Strategy for COP26. It is a myth that society faces a binary choice between protecting the planet and growing the economy. “There is a real recognition amongst businesses, investors, cities, states, both in the risk of inaction and the opportunities of taking action,” said Austen.

For some U.S. states, equity is increasingly becoming the core of their climate policies, said Julie Cerqueira, Executive Director of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Specifically, we may look to state climate policy for examples of how to not only avoid introducing additional burdens for communities, but to also reverse past damages, said Cerqueira. California, for example, recently moved towards 100 percent zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, including heavy duty vehicles. “Vulnerable communities, communities of color, are the ones that are around ports, they’re the ones that around highways, they’re the ones that around sort of the transit corridors for these heavy duty vehicles,” said Cerqueira, “and by focusing on addressing pollution from heavy duty vehicles, you are alleviating a lot of the pollution that those communities are sustaining.”

Having robust, sustained dialogue with stakeholders is extremely important, said Cerqueira. “Likewise, it’s looking at job growth and making sure that it’s not just creating new jobs, but that there are real pathways to those jobs for vulnerable communities, which means the right training for jobs that exist in those areas.” Economic diversification must be a part of planning as well, Cerqueira said. “If you’re going to be closing a coal plant or going to be converting a plant that is focused on producing gas vehicles, what is the strategy for diversifying the local economy, because it is not easy to just replace what ends up being the core economic driver in those places.”

“We focus a lot on federal policy in the U.S., especially as federal policy relates to climate, but the truth is that most of these decisions are taking place at the hyper-local level,” said Elan Strait, Director of U.S. Climate Campaigns for the World Wildlife Fund. “And how this relates to what we’re talking about in terms of race and equity—the best predictor of where a coal plant is going to be in the United States is the race of the surrounding community, not the income level or the education level of the community,” said Strait. “If black and brown communities had as much political power at the local level in the United States as white communities do, I don’t know that we’d have coal plants in the United States—anywhere.” Giving communities much more authority to determine what goes on in their backyards could help solve a major emissions problem in the United States, said Strait.

Sources: American Chemical Society, Deloitte, National Bureau of Economic Research, State of California, US Department of Energy, World Economic Forum, World Resources Institute

December 16, 2020 09:43 AM PST

Camille Harris, Registered Māori Midwife, is unapologetic about her decision to study midwifery and practice exclusively with Māori families, in this week’s Friday Podcast. “It was always to serve my people,” she said. Both Harris and her professional partner, Registered Māori Midwife, Waimaire Onekawa, started their midwifery careers later in life with a clear dedication to Māori women in New Zealand. “And we just want to be able to give women—Māori women—and whanau [family], the love and care that we would hope to receive if we were the people being the recipients,” said Onekawa.

Investing in indigenous midwifery is critical, said Onekawa. Indigenous midwives understand indigenous birthing practices, such as the Māori practices of returning to a woman’s papakainga (homeland) for the birth; welcoming the baby into the physical realm with traditional waita and karakia (songs and prayers); tying the umbilical cord with muka (a flax fiber); burying the placenta; and putting newborns to sleep in a wahakura (traditional woven bed), as well as subtler cultural nuances. “They understand us,” Onekawa said of the women they serve. “We have this innate sameness. Even if we’re not exactly the same, we know the experiences they’re having. It’s highly likely that we’ve had them too.” This understanding helps Māori midwives provide culturally respectful care, she said.

Unlike post-colonial birthing that tends to exclude men, Māori midwifery focuses on traditional practices, when men and family were included in the birth process. Onekawa and Harris encourage fathers (as opposed to medical professionals) to be the first to touch their baby, so that “their heritage, who they are and where they’re from, and all that they carry” is passed onto the baby from the start, said Harris. This is a powerful moment of cultural reconnection and can have long-term benefits for fathers, especially considering the past traumas of Māori men, she said. “And you see that change in them from the moment they lay their hands first on their baby,” said Harris. “They’re just beaming for weeks and weeks after, and it’s just so beautiful to see the softer side of these men being reborn through that process,” said Onekawa. Having men there from the start improves outcomes for mothers and babies, as men also become more involved in postnatal care, she said.

Although midwives are essential, Camille and Waimarie both stressed that the real strength lies within the women they serve. Midwives are just “the enabler, the fire starter,” empowering women with the knowledge to realize their own strength and keep themselves and their babies well, said Harris. “We’re public servants at the end of the day,” said Onekawa. “We’re just here to help guide them through their journey. And what a pleasure at the end that we get to be a witness to them bringing their new baby into the world.”

December 10, 2020 04:07 PM PST

“We need to give more weight to the voices of people who are most affected by climate change,” says Vanessa Nakate, a prominent Ugandan climate activist, in this week’s Friday Podcast. At the local, regional, and global levels, Nakate’s work sheds light on the imperative for policymakers to value the lived experiences of oft-overlooked groups such as women, youths, and citizens of developing nations. “When I talk about climate justice, it is not something that I want for the future—it is something that I want right now, because our present is catastrophic,” she says.

Nakate began her journey as an activist in 2018. With a desire to catalyze the betterment of her community and country, she investigated people’s needs and determined that climate insecurity presents a fundamental challenge. “Everything I was seeing in the news—in regard to the landslides, to the floods, to the droughts in my country—they had a connection with climate change.”

Uganda relies heavily on agriculture to support livelihoods, putting the country on the front lines of climate change. “The changing weather patterns are a danger to us because they are causing shorter and heavier rain seasons, and longer and hotter dry spells,” says Nakate. Beyond the threat of economic and food insecurity, uneven rainfall presents a public safety risk. Nakate says that the water levels can submerge people’s homes, farms, and businesses. “It’s quite dangerous to walk in the middle of the city after a heavy downpour because you could step in a ditch and the next time they see you, you’re already gone,” she says.

Nakate led her first climate strike in early 2019. “We are doing everything we can to hold governments accountable and to demand climate justice,” says Nakate. Part of her message is urging political leaders to divest from fossil fuels and to combat corporate pollution. “Around one hundred corporations are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions,” she says. “We should move from just talking about how badly they are destroying our home, our planet, to actually holding them accountable.” In pursuit of this accountability, Nakate spoke of the need to prosecute ecocide in international courts, describing environmental destruction as a crime against humanity, ecosystems, the present, and the future.

In addition to championing climate justice in the international arena, Nakate is working to build resilience for local communities. In 2019, she started a project installing solar panels and clean cooking stoves in education facilities. “I wanted to drive a transition to renewable energy, especially in rural schools,” says Nakate, adding that energy inaccessibility and food insecurity hinder the learning process. “The students have to eat, no one can study on an empty stomach.”

December 10, 2020 07:38 AM PST

In a year that has presented enormous challenges, it is even more gratifying to present evidence that strengthens the importance of midwives as providers of essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and the impact they can have on maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths, said Anneka Knutsson, Chief of the SRH Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in this week’s Friday Podcast. Knutsson spoke at a recent Wilson Center event, in partnership with UNFPA and Johnson & Johnson, to launch the Impact of Midwives study conducted by UNFPA, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in The Lancet Global Health.

This research will provide an updated, evidenced-based, and detailed analysis of the present progress and future challenges to deliver effective coverage and quality of midwifery services, said Knutsson. The study will enable stronger policy dialogue within countries and strengthen existing sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and adolescent health services, said Knutsson.

This study also adds confidence to findings from the 2014 Lancet paper on midwifery, said Andrea Nove, Technical Director of Novametrics and lead author. The study examined four scenarios of coverage for midwife-delivered interventions: 1) a modest 10 percent scale up every five years, 2) a substantial 25 percent scale up in the same time period, 3) universal coverage, and 4) a decrease in coverage. The data showed that a substantial 25 percent scale up by 2035 could avert 40 percent of maternal and newborn deaths and one-quarter of stillbirths. That would translate to 2.2 million fewer deaths by 2035, said Nove.

The study specifically focuses on “midwife-delivered interventions,” said Nove. Such interventions must directly affect mortality or nutritional status, be listed in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescent’s Health, and be able to be delivered in entirety by a midwife trained to ICM standards, said Nove. “Nobody is suggesting here that midwives should be left alone to deliver these interventions. But we did want to highlight the fact that they are an occupation group, which can have a massive impact,” said Nove.

Franka Cadée, President of ICM, could barely contain her excitement about the study. “And I’m excited mainly, because this paper supports and confirms growing scientific evidence that should be celebrated by every woman and every midwife worldwide. And of course, if we care about healthy families and the healthy future generation, it should be celebrated by everyone worldwide,” she said. “Midwifery has a long-term impact. And this paper shows that.”

In addition to decreased maternal deaths, neonatal deaths, and stillbirths, greater access to midwifery care worldwide could improve many other aspects of reproductive health. For example, in many high-income countries, midwives provide contraceptive care, abortion services, antenatal care, breastfeeding care, cervical cancer screening, and immunizations, said Cadée, and these types of care should be accessible through midwives globally. “So what it boils down to,” she said, “is that women worldwide should have access to midwives, who’ve been educated to the standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, and who are supported by a team and that magic word, the enabling environment.”

“If we implement this evidence, the world would look brighter,” said Cadée. “Not just for midwives and women, but for humanity.”

Sources: The Lancet Global Health, World Health Organization.

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