Why UNESCO Recognition Matters to Advancing Midwifery

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Why UNESCO Recognition Matters to Advancing Midwifery

A pivotal moment for our profession is set to take place at the upcoming UNESCO meetings (December 4-9, 2023), focusing on the inclusion of Midwifery in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This initiative, led by eight countries and supported by midwives’ associations around the world, represents a significant opportunity to globally acknowledge the practice of midwifery, and gain recognition for the needs of midwives and the communities they support. 

The joint application by Colombia, Cyprus, Germany, Kyrgyz Republic, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Slovenia, and Togo demonstrates the diverse yet universal nature of midwifery — every society has its own unique approach and history surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, but regardless of the location, midwives are responsible for supporting and influencing how we come into this world, underscoring the adaptability and relevance of midwifery across cultures. The nominating countries also prepared an impactful video on the work of midwives.

Beyond its deep roots in cultural traditions, midwifery has inspired various art forms, including literature, painting, music, and film. This recognition by UNESCO would not only reflect the historical contributions of midwifery but also its ongoing role in society. In short, the nomination of Midwifery for the UNESCO list is not just an accolade; it would validate the profession's historical and contemporary importance, promoting its preservation and continued practice. 

Many ICM midwives’ associations beyond the original eight leading this initiative alongside their governments, have alerted their respectives ministries of culture, encouraging them to support the motion at the upcoming meetings. Ahead of Dec 4, we ask our global community to make some virtual noise about the motion by tagging UNESCO and your national ministry responsible for cultural affairs in a post on the social media platform of your choosing, highlighting the role of midwifery in your community. 

Or share the video, text and graphic below:


A Milestone for Midwifery: UNESCO Recognition

This December 4-9, a historic moment awaits at the @UNESCO meetings, as the world discusses recognising #Midwifery in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Spearheaded by eight nations and championed by midwives' associations globally, this is more than just an event – it's a pivotal step for midwifery, a practice deeply woven into the fabric of our societies.

I’ll be watching in support of midwives everywhere and the recognition they deserve! 

More info from @world_midwives here: https://www.internationalmidwives.org/icm-news/why-unesco-recognition-matters-to-advancing-midwifery.html 

#YEStoMidwives #UNESCO



Sample email to your authorities responsible for cultural affairs:

Honourable Minister,

I would like to bring your attention to an important application that will be considered at the UNESCO meeting on December 4-9 2023. Eight countries have come together to prepare a comprehensive application to have midwifery added to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Midwifery has a long, rich and important history in our country. It has social and health importance, but also great cultural meaning for the communities midwives serve. Midwifery integrates a diverse range of symbolic and artistic creations, actions and artefacts according to the specific cultural context of each submitting State. Midwifery practices also have been a constant source of inspiration for artists such as poets, painters, choreographers, musicians or filmmakers.

The inclusion of Midwifery on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) would showcase how inherited cultural practices named as ICH are essential for people human birth. All over the world, births are happening every second. They are deeply moving, touching entire families and communities, while experienced midwives stand by the childbearing women.

For this reason we ask you to support the application for Midwifery to be added to the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


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