International Women's Day 2023

By Joy Kemp, Global Professional Advisor, The Royal College of Midwives on 08 March 2023

International Women’s Day (8 March) has been observed by the United Nations since 1975. It is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, to support them and lift them up and to call for action to accelerate women’s equality. As midwives we can harness this platform to highlight the right of every woman to access care from a midwife for herself and her newborn, to recognise the accomplishments of midwives around the world and the barriers they face.

Sadly, there is a huge gender gap in global healthcare leadership.  Seventy five percent of health and social care workers are female, yet only 25% of leadership positions are occupied by women. Developing midwifery leadership is at the heart of the RCM’s vision, in the UK and in our international work. Fifty one young midwives leaders were developed as a result of our recent twinning partnership with the Bangladesh Midwifery. Today we celebrate their achievements and make special mention of Sangita Saha Prema, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Midwifery Society.  Just 23 years old, she is working as a solo midwife in a remote clinic in rural Bangladesh whilst helping to lead her professional association. She recently graduated from the Nursing Now Leadership Challenge Fellowship Programme, in which she led a programme increasing women’s access to midwife-led reproductive healthcare and ran a midwifery telemedicine service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sangita believes that leadership is an action, not just a position. She hopes that, within the next five years, everyone in Bangladesh will understand a midwife’s role, so that the midwifery workforce will increase and there will be sufficient midwives in every city and village to help women through their pregnancies.

This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity.  As we celebrate with women and midwives around the world this #IWD, let each one of us support and embrace equity within our own sphere of influence, calling out discrimination and bias, embracing inclusion and creating positive change.