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Acknowledging the labor of granny midwives during the 22nd session of the Permanent Consultation Forum for Indigenous Communities

 The National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik is an organization that comprises over 23,000 midwives from all across Guatemala. A midwife is someone that provides community healthcare services —especially to women in rural and indigenous sectors— through a human treatment that aligns with the cosmogony of indigenous communities. However, governmental institutions have systematically infringed their rights and ignored their contributions.

Because of this, the National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik has denounced in different ways the need to recognize their contributions to community health, where government health institutions are not accessible.

The National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik, through their organization and collective action has made an impact and managed to have key political and legal instruments, such as: an adjudication from the Constitutional Court, decree 22-2022, which was sanctioned by the Legislative Body; and the National Midwives Policy of the Four Ethnic Groups of Guatemala, 2015-2025, approved by the Executive Body. The organization has managed to influence the three government powers so that the rights of granny midwives are recognized, and for the government to guarantee the fair and dignified treatment they deserve. However, the implementation of their institutional and legal framework has yet remained as an outstanding debt. 

For this reason, a delegation from the National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik participated in the 22nd session of the Permanent Consultation Forum for Indigenous Communities, which was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, from April 17th to the 20th. The central theme of this session was “Indigenous communities, human health, planetary and territorial health, climate change, and a rights-based approach”. During this session, the delegates of the National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik presented the contributions of granny midwives to the sustainability of life in their territories, and the great challenges they encounter in the face of institutional violence that makes them invisible and undermines their work.

It is the first time that the National Movement of Granny Midwives Nim Alaxik participates in a multi-level advocacy space, and their voices were heard when their request was integrated into the report, in paragraph 60:

60. The Permanent Consultation Forum listened to the testimonies of several organizations and networks of indigenous women, including the National Movement of Granny Midwives from Guatemala, Nim Alaxik, regarding the labor they do in favor of the rights of indigenous women and girls, and how it contributes to ensuring access to comprehensive and culturally relevant healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health. The Permanent Consultation Forum gladly integrates the adjudication issued in 2019 by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala on the promotion of measures that guarantee women’s access to culturally relevant sexual and reproductive healthcare, and the rights of midwives as guardians of ancestral knowledge and practices, and recommends their Government to apply the adjudication as well[1].

The integration of their request in the report constituted another political instrument for granny midwives, so that they can continue strengthening their efforts to recognize their rights and contributions to community health. At CARE Guatemala, we recognize the importance of this advocacy achievement for the National Movement of Granny Midwives, and we confirm our commitment to contribute to the full exercise of Human Rights.