Roma women with a disadvantaged background are more vulnerable to obstetric violence; their reproductive rights can be cumulatively violated in the absence of adequate information and training. Many pregnant women request it, but cannot find someone in their environment who would accompany them in the delivery room; these women are thus left alone.
Community Roma Doula Service
3rd Prize 2023
Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy
Fields of action: Awareness raising, Ethnicity, Violence prevention
Project owner: EMMA Közhasznú Egyesület (EMMA Association)
Responsible person: Kishonthy-Kardos Rita
In the Community Roma Doula Service in Alsózsolca project, local Roma women take on a supportive role and accompany their fellow women in the hospital. In a particularly vulnerable stage of a woman’s life, the doulas work towards ensuring that women's physical and emotional needs are met and work towards preventing discrimination against them.
The project emphasises the importance of supporting all women in becoming competent in their own lives. The doulas are local Roma women with a direct insight into the needs of local mothers. The project incorporates doula training and develops a trusting relationship through discussions about motherhood.
Community doulas experience personal and professional development through being birth companions, and become role models within the community. Local mothers are empowered with a sense of security, self-determination, information and maternal competence. The presence of doulas in the project builds bridges between disadvantaged pregnant women and health workers.
The project aims to establish similar community doula services in other regions of Hungary. Initially, discussions in Roma women's communities are to be arranged to inform about the programme. These are based on the needs and specialities identified, and could be expanded elsewhere. The training of new potential doulas could take place with the help of a local organisation.
Photos © Valeria Cherchi
Community Roma Doula Service has its strength in the peer-to-peer approach based on solidarity among women. The project’s power is threefold: it empowers Roma women during their pregnancy and giving birth, gives new chances to those who act as doulas, and sheds light on the neglected problem of obstetric violence. Supporting the self-organisation of this group, it provides an effective tool against discrimination. With the strong involvement of the target group, it has the potential to create systemic change in healthcare.