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Project Launch: "A community-based participatory research study with Ecuadorian women about childbirth experiences during emergencies"

The research project, "A community-based participatory research study with Ecuadorian women about childbirth experiences during emergencies", was recently awarded a grant from Gender and Public Health Emergencies. The grant will be awarded to Asociación Vivir- Ecuador for a three month project, which employs an anti-oppressive methodology that merges CBPR with critical pedagogy.

The research targets young mothers in Ecuador who experienced childbirth during emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants are drawn from diverse ethnic communities in Pichincha province’s Sierra region, specifically targeting Mestizo, African Ecuadorian, and Indigenous women, served by a multi-ethnic approach that aims to engage three communities. By investigating varied systems, structures, and norms across ethnic groups, the study seeks to unveil how ethnicity and gender intersect in healthcare experiences during crises.

The research employs a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach, involving the mothers in storytelling exercises. This methodology serves dual purposes: it empowers women by giving them a voice, and it offers a platform for healing from traumatic birthing experiences they may have endured at public health facilities. Central to the study is the role of community facilitators who encourage participants to talk about their lived experiences, and engage in a transformative learning process, inviting critical self-reflection and active interrogation of social injustices.

Community facilitators aid these conversations using a pregnant doll, an innovative tool, facilitating sensitive discussions about women´s lifelong learning, systemic healthcare biases, power and privilege and gender roles. Rooted in an anti-oppressive framework, the study tackles core societal issues like patriarchy and power dynamics, making it a catalyst for tangible community change, social justice and transformative education.

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