This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!
Name: Jacoba, full spectrum doula at Mama Aicha
What inspired you to become a doula?
I was inspired on Birth Work during my Peace Corps years in Morocco (2003-05) when while working on developing a Reproductive and Sexual health Education Program for Berber rural women in Ouled Berhil with my limited Derija skills but my passionate spirit, I met Midwife Aicha. After that we both started to develop a comprehensive sexual education program for women and started doing workshops in the community, and following her to her births. She inspired me to continue my studies in Midwifery and I continued my passion for accessibility on Reproductive and Sexual health services for women of color trough Taller Salud. Women themselves on a day to day basis inspired me to continue to these days. I got more inspiration to work with trans families and variations of resources later when working on Chicago Womens Health Center, and with teen mothers on topics around shame and estigma while volunteering on Little Village, Chicago. I kept noticing the lack of affordable Doula services connected with reproductive justice and specially with a class and race perspective; so here I am, doing my part and trying to convince others to join me!
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
Because it is a political thing for me. In these days, where the system seems to have already a plan with all our time, our environment, our health and time; giving people options to become autonomous and empowered to go against it has become a radical thing itself. I believe in that power because it has done amazing things on my own life, I believe it can do the same to other people, and when done and I have seen it on other women’s lives around me, Ive seen the results and it is powerful. I believe being a Doula is political because it is a resistance of not losing ancestral practices, whichever are connected to your history and culture. It is political because out there the services keep on being inaccessible for people, meaning for us people of color too, and this has been historical and has to stop. It is, because when services are developed without considering the lack of other health services around women’s communities, you are setting their reproductive and sexual health to failure and because of this, we Doulas are an important key to help organization and critical analysis with the people and for the people, because it is a matter of justice
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
Popular Education and education for the oppressed (Freire/ Boal). Reproduction Justice and education with, by and for the people.
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Being present! I always feel, when Doula-ing that I am part of something bigger and more powerful than just one birth. I feel I am part of a bigger collective out there of women willing to make a difference not only on other women’s lives but in society. I love the feeling of working for a more justice world for us all. I love feeling it so natural, part of healthy human relations and support system that makes us better human beings into this wonderful world.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
I would change laws that don’t let traditional Midwives in Puerto Rico and Illinois to practice autonomously their passion and cut the accessibility of resources for women and people. I would change that more Doulas could feel the urge and passion to organize by region and moving collective agendas for reproductive justice, I really wish people could understand it is a bigger people. i swear I would keep on doing it trough my work, i know were are many more out there; that makes me happy!