Annual Report

2023 Annual Report

Last Edited 8 July 2024 15:11 CEST


As we enter our 101st year, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) remains steadfast in our mission, vision, and goals. Formalised on the heels of World War I—as the International Midwives Union (IMU)—ICM, in support of our MAs, has continued our work from the frontlines of ever-evolving global health priorities, rising environmental and humanitarian crises, and growing global pushback to women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, and bodily autonomy.

Over the last year, there has been growing interest and global recognition of midwifery as an instrumental and sustainable approach to advancing health outcomes for women and newborns and Sustainable Development Goal 3, focused on good health and well-being.

  • UNESCO adding midwifery to their List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which was driven by the collaborative efforts of MAs and ICM.
  • International recognition also spotlighted the accomplishments of two Young Midwife Leader Alumni. Neha Mankani of Pakistan was included on the BBC 100 Women List for her work in climate disaster relief in Pakistan while Ashu Martha Agbornyenty of Cameroon was awarded the 2023 Global Goalkeeper Change Maker Award by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for her leadership and advocacy efforts to strengthen midwifery globally.

The more ICM becomes that global voice for midwifery and has the attention of global partners, that all trickles down. That is really important for us.

— Representative from the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM)

Our 2023 Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1:

Drive innovation and sustainability for the future of midwifery

Strategic Priority 2:

Develop, strengthen, and support the rollout of a new professional framework for midwifery

Strategic Priority 3:

Foster a movement for midwifery, enabling and strengthening partnerships, advocacy, and communications for midwifery, with women’s voices at the centre


Promote gender equality by employing a gender lens and prioritisation across all elements of the strategic plan



SP1: Drive Innovation and sustainability for the future of midwifery

Innovation and sustainability are critical to the long-term future of both ICM and the midwifery profession. To this end, ICM continues to strengthen critical organisational structures and systems, examine environmental and social responsibility, and diversify our revenue streams. At the same time, ICM is working with our MAs and midwives to build capacity and promote sustainability for the profession of midwifery and impact across the world. 

Triennial Congress

ICM convened its first Triennial Congress since 2017, gathering 2,400 delegates from across the globe to Bali, Indonesia to share knowledge, foster connection, and champion best practices for midwifery. The four-day Congress, titled “Together Again: From Evidence to Reality” celebrated meeting together in to present and discuss midwifery-related research and updates for the first time in six years.

Building the Capacity of Member Associations (MAs)

Central to ICM’s remit is a focus on strengthening the capacity of MAs, and at the core of this dedication lies a profound recognition of the significance of localization, empowering midwives, and entrusting them with leadership responsibilities.

Local Ownership and Association Strengthening Through Twinning

Launched in 2022 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Twin to Win pilot project offers the opportunity for MAs from similar contexts to connect and partner with each other in strengthening the impact of their associations. Twin to Win has been implemented by MAs in six countries, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Burundi, Mali, Senegal, and Uganda.

Emergency Grant Support for MAs in Morocco, Afghanistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine

In response to natural disasters or the outbreak of conflict, ICM catalysed funds for MAs in Malawi, Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey, Israel through Direct Relief. For Ukraine, ICM provided funds to MAs in neighbouring countries, including Hungary, Romania and Estonia, who were providing support to Ukrainian refugees.

In 2023, ICM reached out to and released statements of support to MAs following crises in Morocco, Afghanistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine.

Chief Midwife Appointments

ICM advocates for health systems to include the position of Chief Midwife in their organisational chart as subject matter experts and leaders in midwifery. Chief Midwives were appointed in Switzerland, Zambia, New Zealand, and Australia this year.

MSF Zambia

  • In 2015, ICM, in partnership with SRMNAH experts, developed the Midwifery Services Framework (MSF), a tool designed to assist countries in applying  the latest evidence, standards, and guidance to improve their policy and programming environment for developing and implementing SRMNH services provided by midwives.
  • Focusing on localisation from the start, Zambia was the first country to utilise the new approach which involved collaborating with the Midwives’ Association of Zambia (MAZ) and the Zambian authorities on the MSF implementation.
  • The Zambian Minister of Health (MoH), Sylvia T. Masebo, also outlined a commitment to ensuring women have access to well-trained and well-regulated midwives within the country’s 2022-2026 National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP).
Midwives speak at an event in Haiti.

Governance of ICM

ICM used its Sustainability Plan, which was created and launched in 2022, to inform their new 2024-2026 Strategic Plan.

ICM acknowledges its role in advancing cultural safety and addressing racial and gender disparities. In 2023, began implementation of its Gender Equality, Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) plan, emphasizing staff diversity, gender equality, and rights.

Midwife Kemetra King performs a wellness check with patient Ari Eisenberg, who is nonbinary, at Choices clinic. Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

SP2: Develop, strengthen, and support the rollout of a new professional framework for midwifery

ICM is targeting its efforts to bolster the leadership and advocacy skills of midwives across generations. Fostering a community of practice will not only support MAs but the midwifery profession broadly.

Midwife-Led Birthing Centres (MLBC)

  • ICM was granted funds in October 2021 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to lead a research project on MLBCs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with a focus on ‘what works’ and ‘why’.
  • The research project findings were shared through a webinar series with MAs, partner organisations, midwives, midwifery educators, and regulators.
  • During ICM’s Triennial Congress, a clear and compelling case on midwife-led care was generated. A robust research project on midwife-led birthing centres (MLBCs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) demonstrated cost-effective results and improved health outcomes while underscoring the importance of scaling MLBCs globally.

Young Midwives Leader (YML) Programme

The YML programme offered support, mentorship, and online and tailored training on advocacy and communications coupled with exposure to international forums and networks of alumni. It also served ICM, by creating a group of young midwife advocates who act as champions for ICM’s work but also as champions for midwifery more broadly, in their countries and abroad.

SP3: Foster a movement for midwifery, enabling and strengthening partnerships, advocacy, and communications for midwifery, with women’s voices at the centre

Partnerships with National, Regional, and Global Allies

ICM’s partnerships with international and national organizations and global allies provide opportunities for capacity-building, research collaboration, and the alignment of global standards. These partnerships enable midwives to advocate for the profession and support of mothers and babies.

ICM Midwifery Competencies Digital Learning Solution for Educating Midwives

In 2023, ICM launched the co-developed ICM Midwifery Competencies, which is a digital learning solution for educating midwives that supports students in gaining the skills necessary to demonstrate ICM Competencies upon completing their education and entering the midwifery profession.

PUSH Campaign

The PUSH Campaign is a decade-long global campaign to centre midwives to reduce preventable deaths of women and newborns and advance reproductive justice. Starting in 2024, the Campaign will become a part of ICM’s global advocacy work.

Advocacy Skills Building Support

  • In 2023, ICM conducted in-person advocacy trainings for MAs in Bangladesh, Zambia, and Kyrgyzstan, on topics related to agenda-setting, policy reform, and financing for midwifery investments.
  • This included an ICM delegation visit to Bangladesh and its MA, Bangladesh Midwifery Society (BMS), to strengthen partnerships with key midwifery stakeholders and co-facilitated workshops on leadership and governance, and SMART Advocacy to support key leaders from BMS in driving policy change and raising awareness for midwifery investment and recognition.
  • In Morocco, ICM supported its MA, Association Marocaine des Sages-Femme (AMSF) to advocate for policy changes that promote the expansion of midwives’ scope of practice.
  • In Ukraine, ICM worked closely with Ukraine Midwives Union (UMU) to build their advocacy capacity and operationalize the organisation to ensure that UCU can champion midwifery while supporting its members to continue providing access to quality care to those in need.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, ICM and Kyrgyz Allianceof Midwives (KAM) held a joint advocacy skills workshop to support the dissemination of the Professional Framework for Midwifery.

ICM has been integral to our work . . . it’s been an important partnership to foster and grow.

— Paulina Ospina, Senior Programme Manager, Direct Relief

Looking Forward

Rooted in an over 100-year legacy and built from committed efforts to improve the status and capacity of midwives and MAs, ICM stands as an advocate for midwives, pushing for policies and advocating for resources that support an enabling environment for the profession of midwifery. By bolstering the sustainability of MAs and by anchoring approaches in localisation, ICM has nurtured impactful change in 2023.     

The new triennium looks bright for ICM, given the new forward-looking strategy that emphasises a deeper commitment to supporting midwives and MAs, promoting evidence-based practices, and fostering leadership and partnerships that amplify the global impact of midwifery, even in the face of humanitarian and climate crises, and backtracking on women’s rights. As our organisation embarks on the next transformative year, we stands resolute in our dedication to midwives and the midwifery profession as the solution to improving sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health outcomes and ensuring the well-being of women, gender-diverse people, and newborns around the world.