Review of Black Mamas Matter: A Toolkit for Advancing the Human Right to Safe and Respectful Maternal Health Care

Reflections on racism and oppression in midwifery


First, let me start off by saying how amazing and informal I found this article to be!! As you read through the article, it hits every aspect and problem regarding the US and global birth outcomes among African American women. The article starts off by talking about the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit that was first published in 2016 by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The toolkit began as a group of people meeting to ask tough questions about the state of Black maternal health and has grown to a national movement of stakeholders committed to changing the world so that Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources they need to have safe and healthy pregnancy outcomes.

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is a Black women-led, cross-sectoral alliance. Their center focus is to get Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. Their toolkit has helped lay the groundwork for policy change while highlighting Black mamas’ human rights to safe and respectful care. It provides a comprehensive overview of information and resources on Black maternal health and identifies actions policymakers can take to address maternal health within the human rights and reproductive justice frameworks. Similar to the article, I also believe that every woman has the right to a safe pregnancy, childbirth, and respectful maternal care. The article states how these things are rooted in the human rights standards of life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. Governments must ensure these rights by creating enabling conditions that support healthy women, healthy pregnancies, and healthy births.

The article also highlights a study that was conducted in 2000 that notes a historic agreement made by the international community to work together to improve maternal health. Improving maternal health and survival became a shared, global priority and one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that all countries agreed to pursue. Since 1990, the MDGs have guided the international development agenda, which has contributed to a nearly 50% reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) between 1990 and 2015. Unfortunately, the United States failed to reduce its’ own MMR during this time frame

The major issue the article touches on is how the overall proportion of women who do not survive pregnancy and childbearing is on the rise in this country and marginalized women tend to be at greater risk than others. To be specific, Black women are dying at a rate three to four times higher than White women, a pattern that has persisted across the US for generations. In some American cities, the MMR for Black women is now higher than the MMR in many developing countries, which is beyond my understanding. The article holds to the standard that all women need the resources, opportunities, and support that enable them to protect their human rights to health and life and to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Written by Nikita Thomas, Bastyr University Midwifery Student


References (article and image):

Black Mamas Matter: A Toolkit for Advancing the Human Right to Safe and Respectful Maternal Health Care. (2013, January 03). Retrieved from

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