Back 16 June 2017

ICM congratulates the Canadian Government on the launch of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy

Statement from Sally Pairman - Chief Executive 

The International Confederation of Midwives commends the Canadian Government for its commitment to the rights of girls and women with the launch of its Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Canada has made great strides to empower and enable women both in a national and international context, and its dedication to the wellbeing and autonomy of girls and women will surely see it become the global leader in International Development during the Sustainable Development Goals era.

Canada’s belief that ‘advancing gender equality and promoting equal rights for women and girls is the most effective way to reduce poverty’ echoes our own and we look forward to a future where more governments are taking a stand for women, for mothers, and dare we say it, for midwives, who are there to ensure mothers and newborn’s survive, thrive and transform. 

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) - which supports midwives as the heart of health solutions in sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health (SRMNH) in 113 countries – has worked tirelessly to ensure that autonomous, skilled and regulated midwives are appropriately-placed to provide support well beyond the childbirth process.  Midwives are an invaluable resource in development frameworks to advance the agendas of gender equality, human dignity, and humanitarian progress.

In countries with limited resources or overstrained health systems, midwives provide a viable professional avenue for women seeking to enter ethical and skilled employment.  The correlation between education and financial empowerment with gender equity have been long-validated by evidence, but in development contexts, a skilled health professional role such as midwifery does so much more: it provides a mechanism to leverage women out of poverty, thereby preventing the risk of gender-based violence for themselves, as well as creating viable professional role models for girls during their most impressionable years.

Midwifery is the health practice of human dignity, which is why ICM is a staunch advocate for Respectful Maternity Care in all health frameworks.  Midwives have the potential to be a frontline advocate for the rights of women and girls through identification of risk and work to mitigate harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, early pregnancy, and gendere abuse or abortion of female babies in patriarchal nations.

Moreover, midwifery is a strategically beneficial investment in an economic context.  Fully closing gender gaps in work has the power to add up to $28 trillion to a country’s annual GDP by 2025, and midwives represent a sixteen-fold return on investment upon appropriate training and entry into the field.  midwives are uniquely skilled to provide primary midwifery services to women and their families in communities, promoting health, supporting universal access to maternity services and building women’s confidence as mothers in all countries – but especially in those with limited resources or in crisis settings.

ICM proudly champions the need for, and benefit of, female leadership across all backgrounds, and we commend the Feminist International Assistance Policy for placing an emphasis on the need for inclusive governance.  We hope that the Feminist International Assistance Policy will recognise the necessity of midwives in achieving its strategic objectives, and will work with ICM to provide support, interlocution and resources to ensure that midwives are elevated as the rightful advocates for women and girls, not only in sustainable health frameworks, but in all spaces where impact can be made on creating a better world for the next generation of girls and women.


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