White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), in collaboration with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has today released a new report that details the key areas of investment needed to support midwifery globally, as shared by over 56,000 midwives from 101 countries. The report — Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Demands — is being published as the world marks International Day of the Midwife (5th May). It calls on governments to tackle the global maternal health crisis by urgently investing in their midwifery workforce.
To determine the priority investment areas, midwives were asked the question “what do you want most in your role as a midwife”. Two key themes emerged from their responses:
• More and better supported personnel. **Availability for higher pay and benefits is the top global demand
• Supplies and decent facilities **Top demand in Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and second highest demand globally
For midwives, what they want is clear: to be paid a living wage, with benefits.
Research by the Lancet from 2020 showed that fully resourcing midwife-delivered care by 2035 could avert 67 per cent of maternal deaths, 64 per cent of newborn deaths, and 65 per cent of stillbirths. This would mean an estimated 4.3 million lives saved per year.
According to the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2021, the world currently needs 900,000 more midwives — this represents a third of the required global midwifery workforce. Alongside these huge gaps in the workforce, midwives face discrimination, unequal pay, and difficult work conditions which mean they are unable to work to their full potential and importantly provide life-saving care to women, newborns, and people in communities across the world.
The report released today is a follow on from the White Ribbon Alliance’s What Women Want campaign that found that better supported midwives were key to women and girls accessing quality reproductive and maternal healthcare. What Women Want demands have turned into a powerful advocacy agenda that is already seeing dozens of policy, budget, and point of service improvements. With the survey results from midwives, there is an opportunity to improve health systems based on midwives’ self-identified areas, which will in turn support women and girls globally.
Angela Nguku, Deputy CEO of WRA, said:
‘’In our unprecedented What Women Want Campaign, women and girls told us that one of their top requests for quality reproductive health care was increased, competent and better supported midwives and nurses. To fully realize the demand for midwives, we needed to understand better from midwives themselves what they want and need to offer quality care to women and girls. The Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Demands report is a major milestone for us in responding to the over one million women and girls who voiced their demands for quality reproductive health care. Through their own voices, midwives have told us what they need in order to deliver quality care to mothers and newborns. We remain committed to our core methodology of asking, listening and acting for change in women and girls lives.’’
Franka Cadée, President of ICM, said:
“Midwives have spoken and we must listen to them. Over 56,000 of them are telling us the investments needed to support them to reach their full potential. They are asking for more resources, adequate facilities and more respect — these demands are underscored by the overwhelming body of global evidence demonstrating the potential of a well-resourced, supported midwifery profession. It’s time for governments to step up and listen to the voices of midwives if they wish to see meaningful progress on maternal and newborn health goals.”
For any midwives who wish to have their voices counted in the survey, you can take the survey via Whatsapp: link. All midwives’ responses can be found, in their own words, on the Midwives’ Voices Interactive Dashboard.