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Midwives not supported 'adequately' after reporting sexual harassment

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Female midwives who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace do not receive adequate support from their supervisors, according to latest survey findings.

The survey, conducted by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), found that 10% of the female midwives who participated had experienced sexual harassment at work.

“Midwives and women need to be protected from harm whilst at work”

Franka Cadeè

The women that reported this also stated that they were not supported adequately by their superiors and no actions were taken against the offender.

In addition, results from the survey highlighted high bullying rates, with 22% of midwives who answered the English language survey, reporting that they had been bullied at work.

Meanwhile, 40% of midwives stated that they did not feel safe in the workplace.

In response to the findings, ICM president Franka Cadeè has called on global policymakers and leaders to ensure midwives have “enabling environments to work in” in order to retain and recruit more midwives globally.

Despite these negative findings, the ICM highlighted that the “majority” of the results from the survey were positive.

It found that 82% of midwives saw women represented in leadership roles in their jobs and 78% reported that they had the same opportunities of promotion as their male colleagues.

“We cannot improve maternal and new born healthcare without respecting our health workforce”

Franka Cadeè

The survey was carried out to coincide with the International Day of the Midwife on 5 May, and to find out the experience of midwives as women in the workplace.

It received over 1,800 responses from 122 countries across the globe.

Ms Cadeè said: “Midwifery, like any other profession which is female-dominated and service focused, is not discussed regularly by the media in relation to gender equality and equity.

“The current media focus is female actors being paid less than male counterparts– but it is time to talk about the ordinary woman’s salary,” she said.

“Midwives and women need to be protected from harm whilst at work – whether that is bullying or sexual harassment,” she added.

“They need to receive salaries that reflect their worth,” said Ms Cadeè. “By not doing so, we are sending the wrong message to the healthcare workforce which our countries rely on intensively.”

“To retain and recruit more midwives globally, we are calling global policymakers and leaders today to ensure midwives have enabling environments to work in,” she said. “We cannot improve maternal and new born healthcare without respecting our health workforce.”

For International Day of the Midwife, the ICM celebrated the progress in the profession while highlighting the inequalities and rights for women in midwifery.

This year’s theme for the celebration was “Midwives: Defenders of Women’s Rights”.

The day was set up by the ICM in 1992 to celebrate and highlight the work midwives do globally.

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