Author: Julia Wiklander


One New Year’s Resolution to Keep: True Solidarity

Women aren’t free until all women are free. Our rights are not fulfilled until all of our rights are met. It is time for us to take things personally and it is time to show true solidarity. Girls’ Globe is all about raising the voices of women and girls and sharing inspirational stories to create lasting change. We bridge the gap between cultures and communities and have become a global network of young women and grassroots organizations working tirelessly to improve the lives of women and girls in their communities. We also bridge the gap between young women and international decision-makers, creating meaningful meetings for young women to hold leaders accountable and for leaders to learn from true changemakers. We know that more needs to be done – especially after this year. 2016 has been full of scary events that have deprived people of their dignity, rights and lives, and it is more important than ever to stand together and stand up for each other. We cannot move forward if some of us are held back. We need …


Getting the Story Right About Violence Against Women

The need for data-driven storytelling is bigger than ever. With the growth of social media, where stories can go viral any second, it is crucial that we tell the stories right – to change perspectives, challenge the roots of patriarchy, create movements of positive change around the world, and ultimately to end violence against women. Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – a day to highlight the importance to fight violence and discrimination that so many women are subjected to on a daily basis around the world. The United Nations defines violence against women as, any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. When a President is elected, despite the fact that he has said that powerful men can “grab women by the pussy” or when a Swedish male politician calls a female minister “whore” in …


Our Voices Matter – More Than Ever

As I woke up this morning to a layer of the first snow on the rooftops across my bedroom window, with my daughter cuddling close to see the white watery powder in delight, I had forgotten that the election across the Atlantic had come to an end. We walked into the kitchen and my husband greets our daughter with a smile and then looks at me with shock in his face – and tells me that Trump is probably going to be the next President of the United States. As the final news unfolded during the morning hours here in Sweden, the layer of snow slowly started to melt, and I was hit by shock that felt like a punch in my abdomen. A womanizing, racist, fear-feeding man, who has acted on his self-interests has been elected President of the United States, after a campaign smeared in scare tactics and hate speech. This feels like a heavy bomb hitting one of the world’s largest countries, following a range of ever-louder assassinations on our human race – …

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Midwives Inspire In All Corners of the World

The Nordic Midwifery Congress took place earlier in May, where hundreds of midwives and other researchers have presented their latest scientific findings on everything from health during pregnancy, childbirth procedures, sexual and reproductive health and rights, domestic violence, and more. Speakers have inspired others through their action and their passion to ensure that every woman has access to evidence-based care and a midwife who listens, supports and provides the care that every woman needs. We had the opportunity to speak to a few midwives who have in various ways dedicated their time to ensure that women in low resource settings have access to a midwife. Vivian Wahlberg was the first midwife in Sweden and in the entire Nordic region to get a PhD. She has since then dedicated her life to improving midwifery practice and the health of mothers and babies around the world. Each year, Wahlberg gives out a stipend to midwives in Sweden, who want to further their research to improve the wellbeing of mothers and babies. Listen to Wahlberg describe her impact and why …


Universal Access to Midwives is a Human Right

“I think, the need during pregnancy, birth-giving, when you have an unintended pregnancy and the need for you to choose yourself when and if to have a family, is universal. And equal access to evidence-based care is a human right,” says Marie Klingberg-Allvin, who has spent the last fifteen years as a midwife and conducting research on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in low-resource settings. In her keynote speech at the Nordic Midwifery Congress, Marie Klingberg-Allvin mentioned the fact that there are still 300,000 maternal deaths, 2.1 million newborn deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur every year. These deaths are preventable and if every woman had access to sexual and reproductive health care and services, including contraception and safe and legal abortion, and evidence-based maternal health care through a midwife and emergency obstetric care, most of these deaths could be prevented. Listen to her explain the linkages between midwives and human rights.   Girls’ Globe is at the NJF Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow the conversations here on and through the hashtag …

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Overmedicalization of Childbirth is a Breach of Women’s Human Rights

Professor Cecily Begley opened the second day of the Nordic Midwifery Congress with a challenging speech, asking the midwives in the audience what they will be criticized for when women and health professionals look back at them in 30 years time. Yet, Begley shared heartwarming research results showing the importance of evidence-based, natural, midwifery care during childbirth. Begley mentioned that medicalization in childbirth is a growing problem everywhere, and although the Nordic countries have lower levels of C-sections and instrumental vaginal deliveries, there is still a rising trend, which needs to be halted. She inspired the sea of midwives from Nordic countries and beyond to use the latest research in their work and to share it with their colleagues. She also mentioned the importance of informing and educating women, so that we, together, can improve childbirth practices for all women in our communities. I had the privilege to speak with Cecily Begley after her keynote address. After our interview she also asked me about my birth story and left me encouraged and told me that if I ever have …


Nordic Midwifery Congress Tackles Challenges and Unites for Action

The Nordic Midwifery Congress 2016 opened with more than 800 midwives from the whole Nordic region and beyond, gathering together to share research, best practices, experiences and inspiration. Leaders in midwifery, sexual, reproductive and maternal health opened the Congress. Girls’ Globe had the opportunity to speak with them directly. The Presidents of Midwives united in the messages to empower midwives to take action. “There is no place for complacency” said Frances Day-Stirk, President of the International Confederation of Midwives, and the Keynote Speaker at the opening of the congress. Girls’ Globe had the opportunity to speak with these inspirational leaders. Mia Ahlberg, President of the Swedish Midwives Association   Hildur Kristjánsdóttir, President of the Nordic Federation of Midwives   Frances Day-Stirk, President of the International Confederation of Midwives   Kristina Ljungros, President of RFSU   Girls’ Globe is at the NJF Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow the conversations here on and through the hashtag #midwives4all on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more through the following links: NJF Congress, 2016 The Swedish Association of Midwives Midwives4all


Europe, Don’t See Refugees as a Threat!

Terrorism, violence against women, unemployment – these are true threats that we are currently facing in Europe, yet far too often these issues are being equated with the refugee crisis that is visibly pressuring European countries. That equation is not only false, it is also a threat to our societies. Recently, I was asked what we should do about the refugee crisis in our country (Sweden), because “refugee men and boys are coming here with a culture of violence and rape women.” I was shocked that someone so close to me could have such a perspective. Although I got angry, I realize that I can’t blame him entirely, because media is constantly painting that picture. So, for those who may be influenced by that horrible image. Let me break it down for you in a few brief points: Refugees are fleeing for their lives. Don’t for a second believe that people choose to leave their homes, risk their lives on dangerous journeys and come to places where they have no security and don’t speak the language, if …


Building Bridges of Knowledge Between Mothers Worldwide

In January this year, Girls’ Globe launched a new initiative, The Mom Pod, a bi-weekly podcast series about all things related to motherhood. We want to pick the minds of the world’s parents, leading experts in maternal health and women’s rights, and build bridges between cultures, countries and continents. My colleague Emma Saloranta and I became mothers two months apart in 2014 – and throughout pregnancy and in the early months of being mothers we frequently spoke via Skype about challenges and joys. We shared experiences, knowledge and information. We spoke about similarities and differences – being that Emma gave birth in the USA and I gave birth in Sweden. We discussed issues that we encountered and the disappointments that sometimes arose in our experiences during pregnancy or as new mothers. What startled me were the strong norms in our societies that steer women’s opportunities and choices. Throughout pregnancy and especially as a new mother, there are so many other people who have opinions about your choices – and who express these openly. Yet, at the same time, …


The Tricky Subject of Breastfeeding – Why We Do It and What We Need!

I am one in the 16% of mothers in Sweden who are still breastfeeding their baby at 12 months, compared to 34% in Norway and only 1% in the UK. The numbers are over 80% in low and lower-middle-income countries. Breastfeeding has a wide range of positive benefits for both mom and baby, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. So, what is it that determines a mother’s choice to breastfeed? A friend of mine who recently had her baby in Sweden, came back from the children’s clinic a bit confused after being told by a doctor (who didn’t ask about her breastfeeding intentions, practice or routine) that if her baby doesn’t gain more weight in the next few weeks she should start giving her breast-milk substitute (a.k.a formula). Despite the strong evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding (see below) and WHO’s recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and continue for the first 2 years, women around the world do not have the support they need to breastfeed – and the Swedish doctor above is just one example of that. The …