Engaging and empowering midwives in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal
Sixty-five young midwives from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces of South Africa held a very stimulating and empowering two-day workshop in July 2010.
The workshop saw midwives below the age of 40 years, from all walks of life, some working in very remote rural areas and others based in the city, meeting to come up with solutions on issues affecting their profession.
“We are going to influence the direction of maternal and child health care.”
Comments from participants included, “Exciting. Empowering. We are going to do things differently to make things happen. We now need to look at the bigger picture.”
The workshop aimed to ensure that the young midwives realize their significance in maternal, child and women’s health, providing valuable health care to women, their partners, and their children. It also intended to develop practical skills for tapping creativity, experience, and commitment. To achieve this, discussions were held on leadership and management, communication skills and tools, and team-building exercises, as well as group debates on issues affecting midwifery in South Africa.
The young midwives deliberated on the power that midwives have and what they can do to make a difference. Highlights of the workshop included debates on whether midwives faced challenges because of the system or they were to blame for shortcomings in the system and whether there were challenges with midwifery education or not. The young midwives emphasized their power to make a difference and focused on the bigger picture of maternal, child, and women’s health as a whole; what their country can do; the midwifery profession; and what the individual can offer and achieve.
As one of the midwives summarized it, “From now on we will work so that our voices as young midwives can be heard. We are going back to claim our space and position ourselves to influence the direction of maternal and child health care.”
The workshop was organized by the Midwives AIDS Alliance, which is hosted by PATH. The alliance aims to provide a platform for midwives to actively respond to HIV and AIDS in maternal, child, and women’s health in South Africa. The workshop targets young midwives in order to increase and retain the number of working midwives and to encourage them to become leaders that can take the midwifery profession to another dimension.