by Debra Tolson, RN, BSN, ICCE, IBCLC, CPST
Boni Katz and I had the privilege of attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, March 14 – 16 and representing ICEA. This was a huge opportunity afforded us by IMBCO (International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization) through sharing of their passes and we were extremely grateful. The theme for 2018 was “Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.” We were excited about the theme as this fits in with one of ICEA’s core values: Practicing a culture of collaboration based on the knowledge that mindful engagement with diverse groups advances positive, family-centered maternity care. Prior to attending, Boni poured herself over the schedule to help lay out a plan that would allow us to attend as many sessions, representing other countries as possible. As we attended sessions representing countries like India, Nepal, Zambia, Arab, Merico, Tunisia Egypt, Turkey and the U.S., we learned about the challenges that face rural women around the world. We learned they do not have the resources for the basic needs let alone education and health care. Many of those sharing about the challenges in these countries shared what they are doing to meet these challenges and how other organizations could help. This is when ideas began forming of how ICEA could be a part of supporting rural childbearing women across the world! We also had the opportunity to network with unique people representing a variety of organizations. These included International Mother Baby Childbirth Organization, Every Mother Counts, Circle of Health International, Zonta International and American Association of University Women, and Big Ocean – Women for Faith, Family, Motherhood. Our conversations left us excited about the possibilities of partnering with these and other organizations to provide education that supports family-centered maternity and newborn care. This has motivated us to share not only with the Board but with the entire membership of ICEA so that all can see the great needs that exist…and help to meet those needs. ICEA has already been a part of educating others for certifications in CBE, Birth Doula, and Postpartum Doula in China, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and South Africa. We are looking at how we can take these programs to other countries and continue to help support family-centered maternity and newborn care.