Women Deliver International Conference

By Joy Kemp on 05 June 2019 Global midwifery

The RCM’s Chief Executive – Gill Walton – and I are in Vancouver, attending the 5th ‘Women Deliver’ international conference. Women Deliver is the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women.  Occurring every three years, the theme of #WD2019 is ‘Power, Progress and Change’ or, put differently, power, and how it can drive – or hinder – progress and change.  Yesterday’s opening ceremony featured four heads of state from around the world –  Canada, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia – plus gender rights, youth and environmental advocates.  It was a powerful mix and an inspiring start to the conference.

We arrived two days early to attend a high-level global midwifery symposium organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).  This symposium addressed the need for every woman to have access to midwife-led continuity of care, creating an enabling environment for midwives to provide that high quality care and interprofessional collaboration to make that happen.  There were representatives from governments, international NGOs and charities, academic institutions and funding bodies as well as midwifery associations such as the RCM.  We also attended a special think-tank about the development of the next ‘State of the World’s Midwifery Report’ which will be launched in 2021.  This will present data about midwifery from around the world and will be an important tool for advocacy to policy makers for greater investment in midwives and high quality maternity care.  We considered how the RCM’s annual ‘State of the Maternity Services in the UK’ report- and the data collected for this – can feed into the global midwifery report. 

Later today I will be attending a WHO event to launch the document ‘Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn’ and speaking about The difference that midwifery care can make to newborn outcomes, how professional midwifery associations can advocate for high quality newborn care and the importance of working with parents.  I’m also meeting up with global midwifery representatives from Jhpeigo and the American College of Nurse Midwives and having dinner with a journalist.

Travelling with Gill has enabled me to help her understand the context of global midwifery and our networks and partners, and to have strategic discussions about the RCM’s global strategy.  We’re looking forward to being inspired and challenged over the next few days and will be thinking about how we can bring that learning back to the RCM and the wider world of UK midwifery.  We’re also enjoying Canadian food and hospitality!

You can participate in the conference virtually here.


For more information on the RCM’s global work, please visit the RCM’s Global Page.