Report, Triennial Report

Strategic Plan 2024-2026

Last Edited 29 April 2024 13:45 CEST

Despite a strong start, progress on reducing maternal and infant mortality as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has stalled. Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth, nearly 2 million babies are born still and never take their first breath. The first year of life is the most perilous, with 74% of child deaths occurring in this period. In many countries, maternal mortality rates have stagnated, and in some places, are rising.  

This reality underscores the need for a paradigm shift in the way we provide care to women, gender diverse people, and babies during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postnatal period. It is time to finally embrace what the evidence has been showing for decades – that continuity of midwife care (COMC) saves lives and improves outcomes for mothers and babies and increases access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.   

Integrating COMC into broader health systems, ensuring an enabling environment, where midwives have the autonomy and competence to practise according to the ICM International Definition and Scope of Practice of the Midwife has a ripple effect for families, communities, and societies. Integrating continuity of midwife care into health systems can ensure better access to essential health services and progress towards achieving broader health system development goals, including the implementation of universal health coverage (UHC). Midwives can provide about 90% of the sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health (SRMNH) care needs, however, they account for less than 10% of the global SRMNH workforce. As the only global organisation supporting the profession of midwives through member associations (MAs) in more than 140 countries around the world, the time is ripe for ICM to hone our focus on the global realities that are impacting the health of women and babies.  

ICM’s Triennial Strategic Plan (2024-2026) includes four pivotal priorities that are critical to advancing continuity of midwife care models of practice, and midwifery more broadly, ultimately leading to better sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and adolescent health (SRMNAH) outcomes: 

  1. The first priority focuses on ensuring ICM’s sustainability across human, social, economic, and environmental dimensions, organisationally and for all member associations (MAs). It underscores the need for ICM to be flexible, able to learn, and adapt. This means providing support to our MAs and midwives of all generations to strengthen their capacity and take up their rightful leadership roles at national, regional, and international level and within their communities.  
  2. The second priority focuses on promoting midwifery as an autonomous profession and supporting recognition and in-country implementation of the 10 critical elements, identified in ICM’s Professional Framework for Midwifery, that must be in place for midwives to be able to thrive. It also means encouraging countries to implement the continuity of midwife care model which evidence has long shown improves health outcomes.  
  3. The third priority focuses on building partnerships to drive more targeted advocacy and communications efforts that centre on the positive impact continuity of midwife care has on maternal and newborn health outcomes. Strengthening midwifery, midwifery models of care and midwives requires working collaboratively to build more effective advocacy and partnerships across sectors locally, nationally, and globally.  
  4. The fourth and final priority focuses on the emergent need to prepare for and respond to humanitarian and climate crises. Central to this effort is ensuring midwives are integrated into planning processes, educated, and equipped to respond effectively, and are appropriately resourced during times of crisis. In collaboration with and in support of MAs, ICM is well positioned to leverage its global partners and advocacy efforts to underscore the cost-effectiveness of continuity of midwife care in the face of emerging crises including those in humanitarian and fragile settings as well as those resulting from climate change. 

ICM is a leader in providing guidance, resources, and support to the SRMNAH sector, professional midwives’ associations, and individual midwives. We are well placed to utilise our longstanding reputation and expertise to continue to showcase the important role that midwives have in achieving health and gender equality globally and to push for midwives to finally have an undisputed, reserved seat at every table where decisions are being made about health and development.  

Our Triennial Strategic Plan is about more than just ICM – we have developed it together with our MAs ensuring that the plan is aligned with and responds to their needs. We have consulted key internal and external stakeholders, the global ICM team as well as our partners and donors. The plan uses the same holistic approach to women’s health that midwives use every day, addressing both immediate needs and systemic challenges that occur within broader sectors such as gender equality, human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, diversity, UHC, and climate.  

Our 2024-2026 Triennial Strategic Plan has been developed to serve ICM and our members. The plan is rooted in key areas of strength and lessons learned, and it leverages our unique value add as the only organisation solely focused on the pivotal role of midwives as health professionals who provide quality care to women and babies across the entire spectrum of childbirth and broader areas of SRMNAH. The Strategic Plan has been carefully crafted to shape the upward development trajectory of midwifery, ensuring the resilience, reach, impact, and leadership of ICM and MAs locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.  

ICM Strategic Priorities 2024-2026

Mission: To strengthen midwives’ associations (MAs) and to advance the profession of midwifery globally by promoting autonomous midwives as the most appropriate caregivers for childbearing women and in keeping birth normal, in order to enhance the reproductive health of women, their newborns and their families. 

Strategic Priority 1: Drive innovation, leadership, and sustainability for the future of midwifery.

  • Ensure a sustainable ICM, including human, social, economic, and environmental elements.  
  • Facilitate a responsive ICM that is constantly learning and responding to the needs of its members in new and improved ways.  
  • Equip midwives’ associations and midwives across all generations to claim their place as sustainable leaders, secure their roles at decision-making tables and communities across the midwifery profession and in aligned sectors, both globally and locally. 
  • Ensure ICM is engaged with donors, partners, governments, and the private sector to provide technical assistance and leadership in the development and implementation of continuity of midwife care, new resources and innovations.     
  • Utilise and promote more digital knowledge management resources to reach and support midwives and their associations at all stages of their professional development. 

Strategic Priority 2: Support the dissemination and implementation of the Professional Framework for Midwifery.

  • Promote midwives as autonomous professionals to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies and quality sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and adolescent (SRMNAH) care.  
  • Describe and advocate for an enabling environment for midwives that facilitates the necessary professional agency, system-level infrastructure, integration, and funding needed for midwives to practise across the full scope of practice of a midwife, as defined by ICM. 
  • Strengthen midwifery essential competencies, education, regulation, and leadership.   
  • Drive the use of research and evidence for the profession of midwifery and continuity of midwife care. 
  • Elevate the unique role of midwives’ associations as the voice for midwives and to support and advance the profession. 

Strategic Priority 3: Collaborate with partners to grow the movement for midwifery and elevate the role of midwives as competent and respected healthcare providers who put women’s voices at the centre.

  • Leverage advocacy and communications to influence and educate policymakers and wider audiences about the positive impact of midwives on maternal and newborn health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equality, in addition to impacts on families and communities. 
  • Equip midwives and midwives’ associations with data and tools to effectively advocate for continuity of midwife care, maternal, newborn, sexual and reproductive health and rights. 
  • Utilise effective and equitable relationships to build and support the profession of midwifery and expand the influence of ICM. 
  • Support midwives’ associations to build partnerships with women’s groups and communities.  
  • Support partnerships between midwives and women.  
  • Strengthen partnerships between midwives and other stakeholders, including global and national policymakers, other health workers and professionals, other health professional associations and partners across sectors. 

Strategic Priority 4: Work in partnership to ensure member associations are prepared and well positioned to respond to emergent humanitarian and climate crises.

  • Build new partnerships to mitigate the effects of humanitarian and climate crises on women and newborns by advocating to wider audiences on the important role midwives play in crisis situations and securing new funding and partnerships in the humanitarian and climate sectors. 
  • Establish and secure funding dedicated to providing midwives’ associations with essential resources (equipment, services, supplies, etc.)  during humanitarian crises. 
  • Enhance member associations’ knowledge and training opportunities to better support crisis response including promoting midwife leadership in national and local preparedness planning and knowledge sharing between midwives’ associations.