When asked during the Brisbane Council and Congress what message I would give to the midwives of the world and the new leadership of the ICM (after 15 years of elective office within ICM), I responded, 'Never lose sight of ICM's vision for healthy women and for strong midwives!' As I spoke at the end of Congress 2005, I explained why women and midwives are so important to the world order, and why the ICM is strateg-ically placed to lead global efforts to make the world a healthier and safer place for every girl, childbearing woman and family.
Women are key to the health and development of any nation. They carry both a society-enhancing leadership role and a vital society-maintaining reproductive role. Healthy women are needed for healthy newborns, children, families and nations--a fact that policy makers and governments have recently recognised within the Millennium Declaration, Goals, and Indicators (1), the World Health Report 2005 (2), the Child and Maternal Health Task Force report (3), the 5-year review of progress in reaching the Millennium Development goals (MDGs) (4). The ICM has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the health of women and their families in both developed and developing nations, and has led many efforts to make pregnancy and birth safer for women, especially in resource poor nations. If women are key to the health and development of any nation, I strongly suggest that midwives are the key to the health of women in all societies! The partnership between women and midwives is essential to the health of our world.
The ICM was present in Nairobi in 1987 when the global Safe Motherhood Initiative began, and expressed its commitment to the role of midwives and midwifery associations in promoting safe childbearing and the health of women and their families. That commitment has included the running of many collaborative workshops since 1987, addressing the varied roles that midwives can take on. The commitment continued when ICM became co-Chair of the global Inter-Agency Group on Safe Motherhood in 2000 and continued as co-Chair of the expanded Partnership for Safe Motherhood & Newborn Health in 2003. ICM now represents all health professionals working in this area during the transition to a new global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which was launched on September 12, 2005, in New York City.
Why is ICM so prominent in the global arena, given the multiple agencies, donors and governments vying for...