Global Midwifery

Different Worlds

Yesterday, I ended the blog with a cliché I have grown to hate. In contrast to that statement, the women in this doula training do not live in a different world from me. As difficult as it may be to accept, we live on the same rock with the same finite resources.  It was simply the luck of genetics that I was born in the USA and they were born in Kenya.

I dislike that phrase because it pacifies people about situations they find uncomfortable. And it is uncomfortable to be aware of the differences.  66% of the women in Kenya lack access to basic care, while over 75% of women in the USA choose to use epidurals. 66% of the women in Kenya could do nothing to prevent death of themselves or their child if they had a problem with childbirth, while 33% of women in the USA give birth surgically despite any evidence of improved outcomes at that level.

This isn’t about guilt.  I have done nothing more to deserve the luxury of where I live than I have done to demand my loss of it. Indeed, it exists without my doing anything good or bad. I do not feel guilty about where I live and where I am from. But I do see the disparity in the world. I do see problems much of the world’s population face, and I do not want to be part of the internet that pacifies the western world to the facts.

There is a wonderful short lecture given at the TED talks by Hans Rosling, a gentleman who has become one of my favorite teachers. He talks about the wonders of the washing machine, and how the rest of the world’s women would love to have what a washing machine gives them. The solution is not to take washing machines away from those who have them, but to help make them available to those who do not. Watch it.  I promise that you will walk away inspired by the reality that we do live in the same world rather than guilty that our experiences are so different.

The Magic Washing Machine


Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)