GPA's training program builds on the ancestral knowledge that Indigenous midwives have passed down for generations
Midwife Skills Enrichment, Knowledge Exchange & Accompaniment
In poor regions, where access to state health services is limited, traditional midwives, or birth attendants (TBAs), often provide initial and essential maternal and child health care. In many of the Indigenous communities where we work, at least 80% of births take place at home with assistance of TBAs. We support these important practitioners by offering workshops in evidence-based pediatric primary care, prenatal care, birth techniques and management, the recognition of risk factors and danger signs, and the integration of traditional medicine. Our training program, developed from an intercultural, gender-based perspective of care, recognizes and values these essential health workers as true specialists in their communities for caring for women, while also enriching their knowledge and practice with elements of Western Medicine. Our program also provides a space where midwives, who often work alone or with an apprentice, can exchange knowledge and share their experiences.
We design our curriculum and teaching methods through direct collaboration with workshop participants, and incorporate an intercultural, gender and rights-based perspective of care. Our instructors are doctors, nurses and bilingual midwives. Our trainings are dynamic and incorporate interactive, participatory, adult-learning techniques, taking into account the various education, language and cultural backgrounds of participants. We also accompany these essential healthcare practitioners as they unite and advocate for recognition, and improved and respectful healthcare services and policies for themselves, and the women and communities they serve.
Programs Strengthening the Skills to Save Lives and Help Women Have Healthy Pregnancies
Traditional midwives in Cancuc, Mexico learn neonatal resuscitation as part of a GPA workshop
Over the past ten years, we have been collaborating with numerous communities to help strengthen the skills and accompany upwards of 1000 Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Maya-speaking midwives in the regions of Los Altos de Chiapas, Ocosingo, Sitalá, Yajalón, Chilón, Guaquitepec and Altamirano, as well as the health districts of Mérida, Valladolid and Tekax, in the state of Yucatan. These are rural areas with isolated health care, where 88% of the population is poor and where a majority of people live in extreme poverty. The project addresses comprehensive prenatal care; community and medical response to obstetric and neonatal emergencies; family planning, gender-based violence and gender inequality as they impact maternal health. We work with communities so that an action plan will be in place to refer mothers to health institutions when needed, and we are working with local authorities and health centers for Indigenous women to receive respetful and quality care. Our work to date has impacted more thany 200,000 people.
Accompanying the Nich Ixim Midwife Movement of Chiapas
Representatives of the Nich Ixim Midwife Movement highlight the importance of their work
Since 2016, GPA has been accompanying the Nich Ixim Midwife Movement of Chiapas, Mexico, which is made up of more than 600 TBAs representing more than 30 Indigenous, mestizo, rural and urban municipalities throughout the state. The midwives have united in order to colletively fight for their right to preserve and practice their ancestral occupation of caring for women, in the face of increasing obstacles, discrimination and violations of their rights. The movement seeks to dignify traditional midwifery and heighten awareness of the vital role midwives play in the health of women and children in their communities. They also are advocating for improved and respectful health services and policies for Indigenous women at the state and national level, and are documenting cases of obstetric violence, and violations of women and children's rights. GPA is working with the represenatives and spokeswomen of this movement, and the many local groups of midwives throughout the state. Learn more about the Nich Ixim Midwife Movement at www.nichixim.org.mx
Participating in the National Agenda for the Defense of Traditional Midwifery
Participants of the National Agenda convene in Mexico City to analyze proposed legislation that could impact their work and lives.
The National Agenda for the Defense of Traditional Midwifery arose as a response to the devastating effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on maternal mortality in Mexico, especially for rural and Indigenous women, and the vital role midwives played in caring for women and the larger community, without government assistance, protection or recognition. Midwives from throughout the country, academics and representatives of civil society organizations convene to share information and experiences, and define strategies for collective actions to improve conditions, policies and recognition of midwives at the national and state level, and ensure midwives have a say in the decisions and norms being made that affect their work and the lives of the women and communities they care for. The Agenda is divided into commissions that advance strategy and advocacy recommendations, which are presented at in-person & virtual national meetings.