Midwives: Esther Madudu and Eija Pessinen
Esther Madudu is a midwife working in rural Uganda. She was six years old when she witnessed her first birth - watching her grandmother assist labouring mothers inspired Esther to follow in her footsteps. Electricity and running water can be in short supply in the communities she works in and when the lights go out Esther has had to improvise by holding a mobile phone torch in her mouth "to see where the baby was coming out from, or where the bleeding was coming from". She says there are many challenges to overcome in this job, but her passion for it keeps her going and Esther has become the face of a global campaign calling for more midwives in Africa.
Eija Pessinen has had a very different experience to Esther, she works as a midwife in Finland, which is routinely ranked as one of the best places in the world to give birth. The standard of facilities and care are very high, but Eija says the salaries need to improve - "we earn less than a butcher". Eija is proud to have delivered 4000 babies, "the ones that I've delivered are kind of mine, although they are not mine" and says she feels "empowered" to have provided maternity care to 20,000 mothers. Eija won the European Union Prize for Women Innovators in 2009, for inventing Relaxbirth - a system aimed at making labour easier both for women and midwives.