My husband and I had the privilege of being part of the Human Rights in Childbirth Conference as a filmmaking duo. We were responsible for shooting interviews with the speakers of the conference. This project brought back many memories of our college days, to be in the green environment on TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), which closely resembles our alma mater FTII (Film & Television Institute of India). Everyday, we would drive up early to set up equipment, grab a bite at the student canteen, and get ready for the discussions and dialogues of the day around the topic of Human Rights in Childbirth.
It was an honor to be able to have one on one interviews with such a passionate group of professionals from an array of disciples. My husband and I had the privilege to interview…
- health care providers
- public health professionals
- policy makers
- birth visionaries
- reproductive justice advocates
- and journalists
… all of whom were interested in advancing respectful and evidence-based maternal and infant care.
A noteworthy motif that kept repeating itself throughout the conference was the need for women to be respected as human beings, not as bodies. Everyone needs to remember that the experience of childbirth has long-term implications on a woman’s and baby’s health and wellbeing.
In order for a woman to take decisions into her own hands and feel prepared, she needs a fair deal of knowledge. She must know about the birthing process, the benefits of natural birth, awareness of obstetric complications, and the risks of cesarean section for her and the baby. Hence, if we want women to be the authors of their birth journey, an important area of focus is to bridge the information gap.
Over the course of four days, I realized how the paradigm of birth has shifted from being a natural process to a medical procedure. The birthing journey used to be an opportunity for women to awaken themselves by being in sync with the wisdom of their womb. Whereas today, with the over-medicalization of birth, women feel confused, hurried and often cheated in their birth experiences. What is really an art form has transitioned into a clinical condition where the birthing woman is just another passive patient!
However, as I sit on my editing table, logging in hours of footage, I do see that if we join forces, take responsibility for our actions, listen and learn to the experiences of women, we can transition into a more humanistic and holistic paradigm of childbirth – one that can heal women, empower families and build foundations for healthier generations.
As a storyteller, I know the visual medium offers a platform that can help build a better understanding of the issues by bringing different stakeholders together to participate, contribute and resolve conflict. The subject of Human Rights in Childbirth urges collaboration and contribution of people from divergent fields. Working on the conference film is my humble attempt to further a bigger cause by initiating conversations, asking questions, amplifying the stories of women, linking and connecting voices and views together to see patterns of change emerge.