We are excited to announce that Becky Alford has joined DTI’s core team as the Social Justice Program Advisor. Becky has been a part of the DTI family as both a DTI doula and educator for quite some time teaching DTI2 doula trainings in Syracuse, New York City, and Colorado. We are thrilled and honored she has accepted this position.
Below, Becky will talk about her new role as the SJPA and some projects she will spearhead and lead in the immediate future. Welcome, Becky!
I watched DTI grow from afar from the very beginning, and was always blown away by the integrity and heart of its work. After joining DTI first as a doula and then a doula trainer, I was able to see that soul from the inside. I am thrilled to join DTI’s leadership in this capacity today. DTI has set itself apart as THE doula organization to tackle the tough social justice questions inherent in our work in the birth community and has committed itself to training doulas who are culturally competent and forward thinking. From scholarship programs for women of color and transgender doulas, to championing individual birthing rights and birth advocacy, to challenging its doulas to address issues of disparities in birth outcomes and experiences, DTI has grown into an organization that is respected for its unwavering support for social justice issues.
Listening. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our role as doulas. And the heart of DTI is listening to its doulas to hear where it can go to engage with culturally sensitive and pressing questions and reimagine what a doula organization committed to social justice could look like.
Today, DTI would like to announce the formation of a Social Justice Steering Committee. The Social Justice Steering Committee will work closely with DTI leadership in an advisory and collaborative role. Membership is open to people who have expressed an interest and passion in the intersection of social justice and the birth world. We’re seeking representation, affiliation, or knowledge of diverse birthing communities including people of color, disability rights activists, queer, transgender, Deaf/deaf or hard-of-hearing people, and other groups/cultures that are underrepresented in the birthing community. Members can be based nationally or internationally.
The time commitment will include a monthly video conference meeting and ongoing online discussions. Doulas can express interest to be on the steering committee by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15th, 2016.
Advocacy: DTI doulas are fierce!
DTI doulas are not afraid to claim the role of advocate because we see how much more there is to do to make birthing spaces and communities safe for all birthing people and their babies. As advocates, we rally behind autonomy and choice using the Slow Doula Method™ both in the birthing space and in our communities. We continuously ask ourselves if there are other doors left unopened, other ways we can broaden our ideas of inclusion, and if there are new ways to expand awareness for our doulas.
DTI will soon host its first inclusive training to support doulas that are deaf and hard-of-hearing. This inclusion will impact our DTI community by reaching more people who are committed to working as doulas and also directly with deaf or hard of hearing parents who are getting ready to give birth. The 4-day workshop held in Washington, D.C. on July 7-10 will have an interpreter signing alongside the DTI educator. Additionally, all video classes are currently being transcribed so that participants in this training, as well as all future trainings, will be able to access the transcription when needed.
Striving to be a culturally competent organization can mean taking a hard look at your own practices; for example, DTI has moved away from using the word “tribe” to describe groups of doulas, and has made the language on its website and videos trans-inclusive by using terms such as “pregnant person” and “birthing person.” DTI educators will soon attend a professional development course to learn how to best navigate sensitive discussions at trainings so that all doulas feel heard, beliefs are challenged, yet all feel safe.
The commitment to be culturally competent takes time, takes many conversations, and is ever evolving. This year, through the Social Justice Steering Committee, DTI will tackle the complex issues of cultural appropriation in the birth world and will continue to look for ways to broaden inclusion for underrepresented communities and listen to their needs. Reimagining the role of the doula and the role of the doula training organization is an exciting endeavor, and we hope to hear your voice and see the inspiring things you do in your local communities and beyond.