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Midwifery in the 21st Century: Investment. Empowerment. Resilience

September 22 @ 8:00 am - 9:30 am EDT

Organized by Jhpiego

Midwifery in the 21st Century: Investment. Empowerment. Resilience

September 22, 2020


This year, the 75th UN General Assembly will convene virtually as the COVID-19 pandemic deals a devastating blow to health systems and overburdened health providers in many parts of the world. With a global shortfall of 18 million health workers, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, UNGA leaders have recognized the need for “increased investment in a more effective and socially accountable health workforce,” one that has the potential to eradicate poverty, drive the economy, empower women and girls and reduce inequality.

Midwives are a key component of that health workforce and integral to the health and safety of women and their families.

In this, the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, investing in a strengthened midwifery profession can ensure that the hard-earned gains in maternal and newborn health of the past two decades remain intact, while accelerating quality, woman-centered, respectful care for mothers and newborns.

Join us for a discussion on the progress underway in two distinct parts of the world, Tanzania and Afghanistan, where their experiences of empowering midwives is delivering high-quality care for mothers and newborns.

  • In Tanzania, the More and Better Midwives project has focused on gender-transformative education to improve recruitment, reduce inequities, and enhance professional governance.
  • In Afghanistan, the Helping Mothers and Children Thrive (HEMAYAT) project has contributed to building a more resilient health system by supporting establishment of a national Nurses and Midwives Council, reduced professional hierarchy and improved the quality of client-centered care on the day of birth.
  • Their successes have not been without challenges, but these two midwifery programs show how continued investment in the midwifery profession can reap dividends for women, their families, and the communities in which they live.


08:00 Welcome – Dr. Leslie MancusoPresident & CEO, Jhpiego

08:05 Keynote Address – Dr. Anneka KnutssonChief of Branch, Sexual and Reproductive Health, United Nations Population Fund

08:15 From the Front Lines of Afghanistan – Ms. Zahra MirzaeiMidwifery & Nursing Team Leader, Jhpiego

08:30 From the Front Lines of Tanzania – Mr. Benison MuchunguziMidwifery Technical Officer, Jhpiego

08:45 Panel Discussion

  • Moderator:
    • Ms. Theresa Shaver, Senior Maternal and Newborn Health Advisor, US Agency for International Development
  • Panelists:
    • Ms. Annette KennedyPresident, International Council of Nurses
    • Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Deputy Director, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Ms. Pashtoon ZyaeeFormer Technical Midwife Advisor, International Confederation of Midwives and Advisory Board Member, Afghan Midwives Association
    • Dr. Karline Wilson-Mitchell, Director, Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson University and Member, Canadian Midwives Association

09:20 Q&A

09:30 Call to Action and Adjournment – Dr. Leslie Mancuso

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