MANA is honored to represent midwives and the women and people that we serve. We are deeply committed to having meaningful conversation within the midwifery community about how we can begin to repair our collective wounds, address glaring disparities impacting our membership, recognize our history as an organization, and move forward.
The reality is that MANA can’t adequately address the needs and experiences of midwives and families who have been systemically silenced and excluded from our organization, the profession, and the care of midwives until those people (most notably people of color and 2SLGBTQIA* people) are at the table with us.
MANA currently has an all-white board and has always had a predominantly white board: this is a problem. This has left the organization ill-prepared to protect the most vulnerable midwives and the families they serve. We are taking steps to become more inclusive and center the needs of those who have been left out because it will improve the quality of, and access to midwifery.
Some may experience a feeling of discomfort with change, but MANA is more committed than ever to our mission of unifying midwives around a social justice agenda. Some of the steps we are taking include:
- Getting more detail from the midwives of color and 2SLGBTQIA midwives who spoke up at the 2017 MANA/CAM conference to develop a plan for how we can support the critical work that they are already doing.
- Finding common ground with members of our community who were hurt by actions and words at the MANA/CAM conference.
- Reaffirming our commitment to birthing women! We also support and affirm all birthing people and midwives who don’t identify as women. As has been eloquently said by others, this is a yes/and situation, not an either/or one. (See MANA's statement on inclusionary language here.)
- Forming the Division of Access and Equity, an autonomous division led by people of color and 2SLGBTQIA people and recruiting for open positions and volunteer opportunities.
- Developing the leadership of birth workers of color through capacity-building and scholarship programs, including a pipeline program to create a critical mass of birth workers of color on the MANA board.
- Leading the Mama’s Day campaign to raise awareness of the need for more diverse midwives to serve more diverse families.
- Providing more opportunities for our 2SLGBTQIA midwives and midwives of color to be heard, for example, by inviting them to write for the MANA newsletter.
- Providing tools to clarify and create common language among us. This can help people distinguish between systemic oppression (e.g., “white supremacy”) and individual labels (e.g., “white supremacist”), which are not interchangeable. These tools can also help people recognize and counter online messages that appeal to implicit bias.
- Distributing an Equity Toolkit that includes tangible resources, tools, and action steps that will help individuals counter white supremacy and build toward birth justice.
- Developing ongoing training and coaching for countering white supremacy and building toward birth justice for the board and membership.
- Establishing of a code of conduct for conference attendees that clarifies how we can create and interact in a diverse space.
- Establishing a team of white allies to address white supremacy during conferences and providing a place for processing and questions from folks who are new to these concepts.
- Making the annual conference more accessible to midwives and student midwives of color by distributing scholarships. The CAM Foundation contributed 25 free registrations to midwives of color. MANA matched that. And including reduced rate scholarships CAM and MANA distributed over 70 scholarships in 2017.
We invite you to help us and support us in this work.
*Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, & Asexual