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Gender discrimination reason for low wage rates among midwives -UNFPA

The Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem, says overt gender discrimination against midwives, a profession that comprises largely female workforce, is reason for low wage rates, limited opportunities for advancement and reports of sexual harassment on the job.

Kanem urged stakeholders to commit to supporting the midwifery profession toward addressing the global shortfall in maternal health resources.

Kanem said this in a statement on Sunday to commemorate the International Day of the Midwife, celebrated annually on May 5.

The theme of the 2024 commemoration is, ‘Midwives: A vital climate solution.’

The International Day of the Midwife is a day to celebrate and highlight all of the valuable work midwives do everyday.

According to Kanem, thanks to midwives, births are safer.

“The sexual and reproductive healthcare they provide is more attuned to women’s needs, desires and local cultural practices.”

Kanem said that presently, around the world, millions of lives are in the hands of midwives.

“Whether they are wading through flood waters to reach pregnant women or delivering babies amid the rubble of an earthquake, midwives are the unsung heroes of community health services.

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“When crisis strikes, midwives are often first on the scene, especially in remote communities.

“They know that babies arrive, no matter a childbearing woman’s circumstances, whether she’s resting at home or fleeing due to conflict or disaster.”

She added that midwives were instrumental to navigating the challenges that come with most of the world’s crisis.

Kanem said they could provide up to 90 per cent of essential services for sexual and reproductive health and bring their expertise and counsel to women wherever they are.

She, however, said that in spite of their benefit to the world, there remains a critical global shortage of around a million midwives.

“Their working conditions can be arduous, discouraging many from joining the profession.

“Overt gender discrimination against this largely female workforce has also resulted in low wage rates, limited opportunities for advancement and reports of sexual harassment on the job.

“Without significantly expanding midwifery, more women will die in childbirth. Millions of stories will have no heroes, and instead end in tragedy.”

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She also said that a worsening climate crisis makes the need for midwives more urgent than ever, adding that the time to act is now. (NAN)

Folasade Akpan
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