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Back 17 July 2014

Midwife Students with their own Congress

The Congress was organised by the Association nationale des étudiants sage-femmes (ANESF), which was founded in 1987. It has approximately 4000 members in 35 midwifery schools in France.

During the three day congress on the campus of Toulouse University, there were plenary sessions and workshops on topics such as Sexually Transmitted Infections, Communication and What is L’Anesf? There were also a number of exhibitors present.

Saturday had plenary and breakout sessions and elections were held. Former ICM Board Member Mary Higgins attended two of the breakout sessions facilitated by Marianne Mead. Mead contrasted midwifery in the UK with midwifery in France. She noted that midwives – 22,000 – in France are represented by 17 midwifery associations. In contrast over 40,000 midwives in the UK are represented by one association. Marianne suggested that the voice of midwives is weakened because of this fragmentation. In another session she worked with students to develop their ideas for the research that is done as part of their education programme.

On Sunday morning there were four presentations followed by discussion. Eva Martinez, President of the Catalan Association of Midwives, described midwifery education and practice in Spain. Grazyna Baczek, a midwifery lecturer, spoke about midwifery education in Poland from undergraduate to PhD level. Marie-Cécile Moulinier, Vice-President of the French Midwives Chamber, explained the regulation of midwifery in France and the work the Chamber has done with other regulatory authorities in Europe. Mary Higgins, International Officer of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association, talked about the International Confederation of Midwives and gave an overview of the State of the World’s Midwifery 2014. The ensuing discussion was excellent. There was no shortage of questions and the students were challenging and engaged fully in debate that ranged from midwifery in France and other European Union countries to the challenges facing midwives in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Thanks were expressed by both speakers and students and the Congress ended with a picnic provided by the organising committee. Katherine Ryan, the outgoing Vice-President in charge of International Relations, was thanked for inviting the speakers who helped to make the Congress a success.

Report prepared by former Board Member Mary Higgins

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