ACNM Blog Note: This entry reflects the point of view of the writer. At MA ACNM, we hope to include and honor a diversity of opinions.
The announcement of a Women’s March in Washington came within days of the election and immediately offered some hope. Soon sister marches sprouted up everywhere. For me, it was not a question of do I march, it was where. Coming of age in the sixties, I learned early on the power of taking political and human rights messages to the streets. However, no other rally did prepared me for the magnitude of this one. I marched in Boston alongside not only 200,000, but five million others in seven continents and in over 500 locations.
Practically everyone I knew was marching but I felt the need to march with midwives, who are my sisters in the struggle. We organized a group through Midwives for Peace & Justice, an emerging organization that promotes midwifery care by engaging midwives and supporters of the model in social action. In Boston, 60 people registered or showed up to march with the group. And nationally midwives donned our logo emblazoned knit caps and T-shirts to let the world know that midwives were represented.
Our group also included three gigantic puppets; two midwives and a pregnant goddess, who not only served as a symbol of our commitment towards women, but also became a beacon to guide us towards each other through the masses. There were so many people in the crowds that we did not get to hear any of the speeches, and we stood in one spot for over three hours before any movement towards marching started. That time was used to network, share peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and to unify peacefully. The love and oxytocin was surging.
In this huge crowd, gathered in solidarity, there was one thing that stood out to me: the under representation of people of color. I mean, we were in Boston, not exactly the middle of nowhere. Why was that? Before we move ahead as a progressive movement to combat the new administration, we have to look within ourselves and get more in touch with our white privilege to understand this. The midwifery profession is 90% white, a number that has not changed much in the last few decades. This should be our first call to action.
After I attend a birth, I encourage women to reflect on feelings of strength and empowerment that we hope they experience. If one can birth a baby, they can do anything. Isn’t this one of our super powers? But all too often, we get knocked back into the day to day world of being treated as second class citizens and we lose this power. I was reminded of this the day after the march, feelings of hope one day, despondent the next, as I learned that executive orders were signed which placed women’s health in jeopardy all over the world. The power of the march, the feelings of strength it gave me, the connection with millions of people all over the world, needs to be channeled every day. This march should prove that if we work together and maybe a little bit harder, get our priorities straight to dismantle racism and other social inequities, we have the ability to change the world.
Susan R Kamin, CNM
Midwives for Peace & Justice