Traditional Peruvian Midwives

Now is the time to support Traditional Peruvian Midwives! 
(Version en Espanol en los Updates)
In May 2018, a historic event took place where 15 elder midwives from 5 different regions throughout the Selva and Sierra of Peru, came together and signed an accord about the current state of traditional midwifery in Peru. 

They shared personal experiences, traditional knowledge, and most importantly a unanimous agreement to continue fighting for their rights and the rights of the women in their communities to birth in a culturally integral way, honoring the wisdom of their ancestors and their bodies. 

These elders are the lineage holders of traditional knowledge about care for women and families throughout conception, gestation, birth and postpartum. They are the guardians of knowledge about the traditional use of medicinal plants growing in their communities. And while the threads of this knowledge are still intact, they are at immediate threat of being broken. Not a single one of the participants has an active apprentice. 

If something doesn't change now, within this one generation, all of this traditional knowledge is at risk of being lost. 

The reality is, the majority of traditional midwives are no longer practicing in their communities. They have been the victims of human rights violations and direct threats to their lives and livelihoods, mostly because of policies imposed by the government, which has made it illegal for native women to birth in their communities. Campaigns of fear and intimidation have lead to many women no longer seeking the services of their trusted community midwives. The rates of cesareans have risen significantly and obstetric violence and trauma have a lasting impact on rural indigenous women. They are required to leave their homes and travel often very long distances to birth in a clinical setting that goes against all of their cultural and intuitive instincts about how they want to bring their children into the world. 

Through these gatherings we hope to create a safe space for the empowerment of traditional midwives, to know their rights and the rights of the women they serve, to form a network of support and ally-ship, to identify their immediate needs in order to continue practicing their art and eventually to support an apprenticeship program connecting indigenous youth with their elders. 

The midwives made an agreement to share what they discussed during the first gathering in their communities and reach out to other midwives to weave this web of parteras tradicionales across Peru. 

Through coming together in a traditional setting, they expressed no longer feeling so isolated, they felt honored and respected for their knowledge, they made prayers and planted seeds of intentions to continue this work, for the generations to come, for the Earth, for the honoring of their grandmothers and all their relations. 


The date for the 2nd Traditional Midwives Gathering in Peru has been set for November 2018. 

And we need your help! 

All of these women live in significant economic poverty. In order for them to come to the gathering they need financial support for their transportation, their food and lodging, and coordination of care for their animals/families while they are away. 

We also want to provide them a small stipend to honor their hard work, dedication and service to maintaining the traditions and the support they have given to the women and families in their communities, often for little to no remuneration, and in the face of growing political oppression. 

We are not an official organization, rather a grass-roots network of midwives and birth workers fighting to support the revitalization of traditional birth practices in Peru. 

Because of the sensitive political nature of homebirth and traditional birthing in Peru, we are intentionally seeking NO GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT, in alignment with the vision for this to be a truly native led gathering with no other agendas. 

Your donations will go directly to the following:
- transportation for indigenous midwives (parteras tradicionalesto travel from their homes to the site of the gathering
- transportation for 1-2 support people to accompany the elder midwives (either from their own family or from our network)
- food and lodging for all parteras tradicionales for the 3 nights and 3 days of the gathering
- stipend to honor the parteras tradicionales for their lifetime of service and their participation in the gathering
- professional photographer to document the event

Please consider making any size donation you are able. Together we are weaving this web of healing from intergenerational trauma, violence of colonialism and patriarchy. Birth is truly a microcosm of women's lives. Let us work together to support indigenous women's empowerment. Peace on Earth begins at Birth.

Support the revitalization of traditional midwifery in Peru today. 

Urpiyay Sonqoyay. Deep gratitude.

All photos and video credit to Miguel Palomino
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Kai Morrison 
Battle Ground, WA
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