By Clara Machado
The Agroextractivist Women’s Association for the mid-Juruá (Associação de Mulheres Agroextrativistas do Médio Juruá; ASMAMJ) took part in the III Traditional Midwives Meeting (Encontro de Parteiras Tradicionais da Rede Unida), on the 29th October, within the virtual program of the 14th Rede Unida International Congress – “Saúde é Vida em Resistência: traçando caminhos com o SUS”. Other associations were also present at the event, including the Traditional Midwives Association for the State of Amazonas (Associação das Parteiras Tradicionais do Estado do Amazonas – Algodão Roxo, APTAM), the Midwives Network for the State of Amapá (Rede Estadual de Parteiras do Amapá), the Amazonian Women’s Institute (Instituto Mulheres da Amazônia; IMA) and the Midwife’s Museum (Museu da Parteira). In addition to the participation of 30 traditional midwives from different regions of the Amazon and the Brazilian northeast, the congress also welcomed students, researchers, teachers and supporters of traditional midwives. The book “Parteiras Tradicionais: Conhecimentos Compartilhados, Práticas e Cuidados em Saúde” of Editora Rede Unida was pre-launched at the event.
Following this meeting, the midwives wrote a joint letter with their demands to Municipal and State Health Departments, deputies, councilors and institutions managers. Among their demands, the search for material support stands out, including the provision of personal protective equipment and the replacement of materials used in deliveries, as well as increased support for training and knowledge exchange through workshops and meetings between associations. The struggle to recognize the work of traditional midwives also involves raising the awareness of managers about the importance of this profession, and creating laws that promote the integration of midwives within official health services.
According to Raqueline Nery, who advised ASMAMJ during the meeting, “It was very exciting to see that in other municipalities women are recognized and valued for what they do, which is such a beautiful job, it is a tradition, and it is getting lost in the Middle Juruá due to lack of recognition and local support.”
Currently ASMAMJ has nine midwives affiliated with the Traditional Midwives Association for the State of Amazonas (Associação das Parteiras Tradicionais do Estado do Amazonas), including residents of the communities of Pupuaí, Nova União, Gumo do Facão, São Raimundo and Nova Esperança. In February 2020, they held the first themed workshop – Knowledge Exchange Workshop with Traditional Midwives of the Middle Juruá – with the presence of the experienced midwife Dona Lourdes, from the municipality of Tabatinga, who exchanged knowledge with the women of the region.
As Raqueline Nery reported, “Since September 2019, when there was a medicinal plant workshop with support from Fiocruz Amazonas, we kept in touch and managed to hold our first Traditional Midwives Knowledge Exchange Workshop, which took place in February this year. Many associates want to continue this work, I am sure that the women liked it a lot and it would be very important for them to be continued”.