Five Black Birthworkers Receive Awards to Honor Their Contributions in Improving Birth Outcomes for Families of Color.

At a recent conference held late this spring, five Black women were recognized for their achievements and contributions to maternal infant health.  During the Human Rights in Childbirth U.S. Summit Birthing Justice Forum & Maternal-Child Health Champion Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles on May 26, 2016, these five Black birthworkers were recognized, amongst a total of 10 recipients honored for their significant efforts and positive impact on maternal infant health amongs families of color:

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Claudia Booker, CPM, M.Ed. JD received the “Agent Provocateur Award” (Washington DC)

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Racha Tahani Lawler, LM, CPM received the “Agent Provocateur Award” (Los Angeles)

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Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM received the “Visionary of the Year Award” (Florida)

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Shafia Monroe, DEM, MPH received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” (Portland)

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Kimberly Durdin, IBCLC, Student Midwife receive the “Future Leader Award” (Los Angeles)

You can click on the recipients' names above to go directly to their own websites and learn in depth about each of them, or read their bios in one place on the Black Women Birthing Justice site.

Lamaze International was fortunate to have Jennie Joseph present a plenary session at the 2015 Lamaze/ICEA Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  I interviewed Jennie prior to her presentation - The Perinatal Revolution: Reducing Disparities & Saving Lives Through Perinatal Education and you can read that interview here.

Black families and families of color have long faced disparities in outcomes both for maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Challenges on the local, national and international level have made healthy full term pregnancies, safe and healthy births and healthy newborns difficult to achieve because of the disparties that exist for families of color. The work that these award recipients have been recognized for has been making a difference, and can and should be well funded and replicated to allow more families of color to benefit from their effective service models.

Previously on Science & Sensibility, Sherry L. Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, CD(DONA) shared information about the significant disparity that exists for Black mothers and babies, and what we can do to help. The post "Black Infant Mortality and the Role of the Childbirth Educator and Doula" will be helpful to read.

I would also like to make you aware of opportunities for organizations who train doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, midwives and other birth professionals to be listed on the Grand Challenge website, so people of color can find and receive support for their training and education.  The Grand Challenge is a collective website initiated by Mercy in Action and now maintained by Claudia Booker, where schools and training programs that educate birth workers can list their programs and the types of scholarships available to people of color to learn and receive training, regardless of where the program is located.

"Every pregnant woman deserves a Midwife, Doula, Childbirth Educator, or Breastfeeding educator/counselor from her own culture if she so desires. We know from evidence-based studies that good maternity care, education, and support prevents prematurity, reduces complications and in general improves birth outcomes. This is a matter of life and death for certain groups in America at the present time." - The Grand Challenge

If you work for an organization that trains birth professionals and midwives, consider offering and listing your scholarship and funding options and the programs that you offer, so that people can apply and be selected to participate  Training people of color to serve families of color in their own communities with culturally appropriate care will improve morbidity and mortality in the communities that those trained will be working in.

Congratulations to these couragous, smart, caring leaders who are working hard to improve birth outcomes for famiies of color.  The recognition and awards are well deserved and the work that these women are doing is making a difference everyday. 

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