Proud to be

By Race Matters Project Midwife Jane Bekoe on 27 October 2021 Maternity Services Midwifery Race matters

Earlier this week, the RCM hosted a webinar to share Black and brown personal and professional experiences in maternity, while reflecting on the theme of this year’s Black History & Culture Month (BHCM), Proud to be. As the RCM’s newly appointed Race Matters Project Midwife, I was pleased to help orchestrate the event, bringing inspiring speakers to engage with members, hold important conversations on equality and diversity and reflect on what we are proud of.

With a collective career of 70 years in midwifery practice, Natoya Mamby-Campbell, Janet Fyle MBE and Jemima Owusu and I shared our unique journeys into the profession. It was inspiring to hear the different directions you can take to nurture your career and development – or as Jemima put it ‘nurture our youth and have confidence in them’. Natoya dared us to be different and take flight with our potential, Janet banged the drum for activism and taking up space as a dreamer and I put forth the importance of mentoring and being inquisitive, ensuring that confidence should always override your fear.

Keynote speaker Dr Joan Myers OBE also shared her inspiring journey into nursing and her rich career as one of the most influential Black leaders in the NHS. When asked to think about what legacy we leave, she said that diversity and representation at leadership level is intrinsic to nurturing the next generation. Joan spoke of how important it is to walk into an interview with a diverse panel ready to welcome you – but emphasised how this representation must be appropriate and not solely based on skin colour. The RCM will be making an announcement later this week on the importance of mentorship and career development, in its aim to grow leaders at every level in maternity and midwifery.

Where we shared hopeful changes to the profession, we also got an empowering masterclass on personal leadership, equality, diversity and inclusion, led by Coach-Speaker-Author Rasheed Ogunlaru. The session captivated the audience on a journey of appreciating our individual, interconnected and intersectional selves, teams, organisations and world around us. We broke down the theme in terms of:

  • I: embracing your unique gifts, identity and talent and responsibility
  • We: appreciating the collective aspirations, need and goals and those of others’
  • All: raising our consciousness and compassion to evoke true transformation

As BHCM comes to an end, we look to carry on these conversations and carry on the work outside of October. My role is designed to listen to the lived experiences of Black and racial heritage midwives and MSWs, in relation to Race Matters within the RCM. I’ll be conducting many more conversations to understand how the RCM can better engage, support and improve visibility of members and non-members. I look forward to joining many of you across confidential platforms and hearing your own unique stories.

Reflecting on this year’s theme, I am proud to be a part of a union and professional body that is dedicated to reflecting on the grass roots of Race Matters within the organisation, to ensure that members and non-members are not only heard in October but feel inclusive beyond the month. I am proud to have initiated the conversations with fellow colleagues to share the careers and personal triumphs with the hope to inspire those working in our services today and those still yet to join us.

Watch the webinar here.