Midwifery is the foundation of every Indigenous community. However, in many countries, and in the Americas in particular, the practice of traditional Indigenous midwifery – both the provision of clinical care by Indigenous midwives, and the transmission of knowledge and practice of Indigenous midwifery intergenerationally, has declined significantly over the last decades due to relentless discrimination, government policy and active oppression by state systems. This has had a devastating impact on both the preservation of the culture and the results of the maternal and neonatal health and well-being of the Indigenous communities.
Large numbers of indigenous midwives In Central and South America are criminalized. In Peru, for example, the situation of traditional indigenous midwives has deteriorated in recent years, despite intercultural health policies that promote traditional medicine, and the integration of Indigenous midwives into the conventional medicine system. Today, many indigenous pregnant women are forced to leave their communities to give birth in hospitals located in urban centers. This is a common experience for Indigenous women in Canada, Mexico and Peru, where women can spend up to four weeks of pregnancy outside their communities, usually alone and without support from their extended family. Within these health institutions, it is common to experience discrimination and a lower quality care based on implicit prejudice and racism – contributing to grave disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes.
During the eighteenth session of the Permanent Forum of the United Nations for Indigenous Issues, we will held the side event “Preserving the ancestral knowledge of traditional Indigenous midwives: wise practices and challenges of implementation”. The event aims to explore Wise Practices and organizational strategies of Indigenous midwifery knowledge transmission and preservation in the Americas. Also, to review UNPFII recommendations related to traditional knowledge and midwifery, and share examples and proposals for their effective implementation by UN member States.
This willtake place on Monday, April 22 at 4:45 p.m. in the Conference Room 6 – CR6 of the UN headquarters in New York, organized by the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives NACM (Canada), Kinal Antzetik D.F.(Mexico) and CHIRAPAQ Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú (Peru).