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Colombia’s Traditional Midwifery Declared a Cultural Heritage by UNESCO


Midwifery Colombia UNESCO
Traditional midwifery in Colombia was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Credit: ASOPARUPA

Traditional midwifery in Colombia has been honored with a prestigious recognition by UNESCO, being declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This acknowledgment not only highlights the country’s cultural richness but also elevates the legacy of midwifery as a significant practice.

The proclamation of Colombia’s traditional midwifery occurred during a session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) along with six other countries. This event, held on Wednesday morning, marked a milestone in the preservation and recognition of this ancestral practice.

A significant cultural and traditional achievement

Adriana Molano Arenas, the Deputy Minister of Heritage, Memories, and Cultural Governance at the Ministry of Cultures, emphasized the importance of this recognition. She highlighted four fundamental factors that underscore the relevance of midwifery: the acknowledgment of ancestral knowledge, women’s rights, gender equality, and the connection between culture and territory.

This achievement is the result of collaborative efforts between the Association of United Midwives of the Pacific (Asoparupa) and other community organizations in the Pacific region who advocated for this recognition as a national heritage.

Midwifery Colombia UNESCO
Traditional midwifery is part of the ancestral Afro, indigenous and peasant practices of different parts of the country. Credit: ASOPARUPA

Midwifery is much more than an ancestral medical practice. It has been a guardian of maternal health, preserving the safety and hope of thousands of children under various conditions throughout history. Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs, emphasized the wisdom and compassion of midwives as key elements in safely bringing these children into the world.

The traditional practice of midwifery

This practice is based on evidence-backed methods and nurtures knowledge and skills passed down through tradition. It varies among communities and countries, including their own festivities, rituals, and terminology. The transmission of this knowledge occurs orally, through observation, and participation within community networks.

The inclusion of midwifery on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity not only recognizes it but also promotes its diversity and preservation. This recognition drives the implementation of safeguarding measures in collaboration with the communities carrying these traditions, reinforcing their cultural significance and historical legacy in Colombia.

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