Raising people’s awareness about Human rights in Childbirth

Which role for consumer / patient / parent organisations?

This roundtable was lead by 2 belgian parent organisations whose aims are to provide objective and evidence-based information about birth and to empower young and future parents, so as to enable a society change in favour of the respect of human rights during pregnancy and birth. The organisations are Alter-NativeS ( and Victo (

The roundtable offered the participants time to propose, discuss and criticise numerous ideas and recommendations to raise global awareness of the existence and respect of Human rights around birth, in the society.

3 main paths of discussion were followed : actions toward parents, relationships with politics and institutions, partnership with birth professionals. In the end, we shared all ideas and tried to prioritise them.

The main priorities all focus on the work to be done with (future) parents, in the fields of information and sensitisation :

  • Gather information and make it available to (future) parents through different medias, including social networks, blogs,...

The information should be built and validated through close contacts with midwives and academics.

One special type of information seem hardly available in different countries and should be collected and disseminated with special attention : hospital performances.

  • Bring this information where (future) parents really are, even those who are not previously sensitised : cafés, playgroups, (kids) fairs, women groups, 2nd hand baby clothing markets, book and movie clubs, ... with a special attention on reaching (future) fathers

A way of popularising the information could be to get celebrities to support it.

Public debates and questionnaires could be used (“did you have the birth you wanted?”). Events like cinema events dedicated to parents, birth movie clubs,... could also be used.

  • Develop birth education for teenagers

The role of birth professionnals in empowering parents has also been stressed as a priority, through :

  • stimulating critical thinking among the (future) parents
  • networking and co-working among different birth professionals, promote the role of midwives and doulas among the health care professionals

Different ideas on how to sensitise politics have been cited :

mobilising events on pre-voting times, submissions to selected groups in parliament, petitions, lobbying, ...

The group thought that politics should be sensitised mostly to the role of midwives, the costs of the society choices made around birth and their global impacts on mothers and babies.

“Friendly” politicians could be great supporters in this task, they should be searched and mobilised ; civil servants could also be precious allies as they are more permanent and their work can be more long-term oriented.

Nadège Alexandre & Krista Dekens

7 november 2013