McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster midwives take steps to improve maternal health

Published: April 11, 2011
Footsteps for Change

Midwives in the Hamilton and Burlington area — including many with strong ties to McMaster University — will stride together this Mother's Day to raise awareness and funds in support of maternal health.

More than 500 women and their families, local midwives and community partners are expected to attend Footsteps for Change, the first reunion and fundraising walk for maternal health to be held in the city.

Jessica Jones, a fourth-year McMaster midwifery student and co-organizer, says the motivation behind Footsteps for Change is to act locally but think globally.

"Our intent is to come together and raise awareness and support for maternal and newborn health issues around the world," said Jones, who graduates from her program next month. "We tend to think globally with the issue of maternal health."

There's good reason for that. Each day, 1,450 women die in childbirth or from preventable obstetrical complications. Over 90 per cent of these maternal deaths occur in the developing world.

Footsteps for Change is a local effort to tackle global inequalities in maternal and newborn health. All funds raised from the event will be donated to Save the Mothers, a Hamilton-based not-for-profit that trains local professionals from developing countries to act as agents for change in their communities.  Save the Mothers was established by Jean Chamberlain Froese, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster.

The five-kilometre Hamilton walk, which takes place May 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bayfront Park, is one of a global series of walks that are happening in May and June. The international effort will culminate in a final 5K into Durban, South Africa, the site of 2011 congress of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). Bridget Lynch, an assistant professor in the midwifery education program at McMaster and president of the ICM, issued a call to action for midwives around the world to come together to "Walk the Road to Durban." The global gatherings celebrate International Day of the Midwife (held on May 5, 2011) and raise awareness of the role midwives play in addressing maternal and newborn health, both locally and globally.

Lynch, Chamberlain Froese and Anne Wilson, a McMaster midwifery alumna and president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, will speak at Footsteps for Change in Hamilton.

For more information or to register, visit:

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