Tune in to our podcast to hear expert speakers on the links between global environmental change, security, development, and health.
The Environmental Change and Security Program is a part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in the District of Columbia. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. For more information, visit www.wilsoncenter.org/ecsp and www.newsecuritybeat.org.
This podcast was formerly titled "Friday Podcasts From ECSP and MHI," and included contributions from the Wilson Center's Maternal Health Initiative (MHI).
Episode 250: Happy World Gorilla Day! A Conversation with Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka on COVID-19’s Impact on Gorilla Conservation and Public Health in Uganda
30:32“When we started out, people thought it was weird. ‘Why are you integrating people and animals and why are you integrating human health and animal health?’” says Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), in this week’s New Security Broadcast. Indeed, health infrastructure and conservation have long been organized around distinct silos. “Donors were focusing on single sector funding, and government departments were aligned along single sectors,” says Kalema-Zikusoka. To protect Uganda’s mountain gorillas, however, Kalema-Zikusoka recognized the need to set up an organization that could prevent disease transmission between humans and wildlife. Improving the health and well-being of communities in and around protected areas would help to ensure that they were less likely to have infectious diseases, could enjoy a better quality of life, and would ultimately enable communities to co-exist better with the wildlife. Over the past decade, there has been growing awareness and acceptance of this approach to conservation and public health. Often referred to as “One Health,” it is a multisectoral approach to disease prevention that centers interconnections between wildlife, ecosystem, and human health. Evidence tracing COVID-19’s origins to virus transmission between bats, an intermediate host, and humans only heightened the awareness of the interdependency between wildlife and human health. CTPH’s approach to community health has made them an asset for addressing COVID-19. The Ugandan Ministry of Health requested that the NGOs working with community health workers create village COVID task force committees, says Kilema-Zikusoka. They were worried that mounting infections could easily become severe ones, and there were not enough beds and oxygen, particularly in protected areas, where the lack of resources is more severe than in cities, she says. These action groups—now in 59 villages—are led by the village head and conservation team, and include the Uganda Wildlife Authority, porters at gorilla reserves, women and religious groups, and educational staff members. Such holistic, coordinated One Health efforts are essential for disaster preparedness and response in communities where wildlife and humans share a habitat, says Kalema-Zikusok. Despite this progress, tensions between human and animal health continue to emerge. Last year, hunger and economic desperation caused by the loss of tourism revenue drove a poacher to enter a protected area and kill a member of Uganda’s silverback mountain gorilla population. To prevent further endangerment, CTPH has implemented a range of short and long term measures to tackle pandemic-induced food insecurity—distributing fast growing green seedlings in the community; encouraging sustainable farming as an alternative to poaching; and ensuring gorilla guardians and reform poachers are trained in and benefitting from COVID-19 prevention initiatives. “This is an area we got into because of the pandemic. We started to look at food security more closely as an organization, so we have also grown just like other organizations during this very difficult time,” says Kalema-Zikusoka. There are important lessons learned and insights drawn from the pandemic that we must carry forward in order to realize a safer future for humans and animals alike.
Episode 249: Introducing New Security Broadcast
2:41“To inform the most pressing issues of our time, to bring new voices to the policy space, and to help our audience better understand these complex connections and where we can be most effective in our responses, we bring you the New Security Broadcast,” says Lauren Risi, Director of the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP), in today’s launch of ECSP’s new podcast series, New Security Broadcast. New Security Broadcast serves as the successor to ECSP’s long-running podcast series, Friday Podcasts. Since 2010, Friday Podcasts has spotlighted leading experts diving deep into topics around environmental security and peacebuilding, biodiversity conservation, climate security and migration, population-health-environment connections, and demographic security. It also hosted two special series, Water Stories and Backdraft, which featured experts from around the world on 21st century water challenges, and how to avoid unintended—yet potentially devastating—consequences from climate adaptation and mitigation efforts that lack a conflict-sensitive lens. “The evidence has never been stronger. Environmental change, global health, demographic trends, gender dynamics, and security all intersect in ways that influence foreign policy, national security, and global stability,” says Risi. For over 25 years ECSP has brought together scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to better understand how these issues influence one another, how they drive insecurity, and where there are opportunities to respond more effectively, she says. To build upon this history, New Security Broadcast aims to share new research and policy responses, continue to feature ECSP insights, showcase the Wilson Center’s regional and thematic programs, and highlight cutting-edge researchers, experts on the ground, and policymakers who are grappling with today’s biggest issues. “You don’t need to look beyond today’s headlines to see that the issues ECSP has researched and analyzed for decades have only become more acute, and the need to address them more urgent,” says Risi. Tune in to the New Security Broadcast to stay up to date and learn more.
Episode 248: The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed: A Conversation with Co-authors Robin Broad and John Cavanagh
36:24“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win so those are the Goliath. The Davids usually lose,” says John Cavanagh, co-author of The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed. In this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts, Cavanagh and co-author Robin Broad recount how local activists mobilized a global coalition of religious leaders, labor unions, and environmental activists to block an international corporation from opening a gold mine that threatened El Salvador’s fragile water supply. “We had no choice but to begin the book with the horrifying realization that murder can be the cost of protecting the environment in many countries around the world,” said Broad. In 2009, three months before Cavanagh’s organization, Institute for Policy Studies, was preparing to present its prestigious annual Human Rights Award to a group of El Salvadoran water defenders, they received news that one of the awardees, teacher and cultural worker, Marcelo Rivera, had been assassinated, his tortured body left at the bottom of a deep dry well. The Water Defenders tells the story of ordinary people coming together across national and political boundaries to resist powerful corporate interests. In the early 2000s, mineral prices were on the rise and the Pacific Rim mining company sought to set up new mining operations to tap into El Salvador’s gold reserves, promising new jobs and one percent of their profits to the local government. While assurances of prosperity and profit by the mining company initially sounded inviting to Marcelo and the local community, “they visited a big mine in Honduras, and there they saw the horrible environmental damage that comes from the fact that gold is mined on a large scale, using cyanide to separate the gold from the rock [which is] highly toxic and very hard to contain,” says Cavanagh. In Honduras, cyanide-laced water flowed through the rivers, killing fish and causing skin diseases. The water defenders decided “that short term financial rewards for the few would be way offset by the environmental harms to the broader community,” says Cavanagh. To expand their coalition of support and raise awareness of the dangers of mining, “they did some of the most creative education and organizing that we've ever seen,” says Cavanagh. Marcelo organized with humor, leading marches of laughter where people wore clown noses and involved local community radio stations who performed skits on water. The water defenders expanded their coalition to the global level, creating a network of “international allies” and appealing to the two million Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Global International Trade Union Confederation, says Cavanagh. Against all odds, the diverse coalition of actors succeeded in helping to convince the El Salvador legislature to institute the world’s first ban on metal mining and influenced the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes to rule in favor of El Salvador in a lawsuit brought by the Pacific Rim mining corporation. Part of their success was the fact that even as their international support expanded, “the anchor was always the frontline communities. They were the ones who took the lead, and they were the ones who set the goals,” says Broad. They also framed their message around a positive goal. They didn't call themselves anti-miners; they called themselves the water defenders, says Broad. “This is a story about redefining progress in a way that hopefully works to the benefit of the majority of the population of the world, rather than just to an elite few,” says Broad. By sharing this unlikely success story, Broad and Cavanagh offer a practical playbook on effective grassroots, coalition-building to redefine development and to protect the environment in the face of powerful corporate interests.
Episode 247: Engaging Marginalized Groups is Essential to Achieving Universal Health Coverage
19:16Too often, many in my community are excluded from sexual and reproductive health services, said Ruth Morgan Thomas, co-founder and Global Coordinator of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, in today’s episode of Friday Podcasts. This episode features highlights from a recent Wilson Center and UNFPA event where Thomas and Zandile Simelane, an HIV Youth Advocate from Eswatini, address the barriers that their respective communities—sex workers and HIV positive youth—face in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and universal health coverage (UHC). Leaving marginalized individuals out of conversations about SRH and UHC heightens the chance that social protections will not fully accommodate their health needs. For individuals engaged in sex work, access to SRH services is an occupational health issue, said Thomas. “It isn’t just sexual and reproductive health. It’s actually about our work and keeping us safe in our work.” Nevertheless, because many governments do not formally recognize sex work, it is excluded from typical social protections, she said. This lack of protection is compounded by the active criminalization of marginalized groups, including sex workers, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals who inject drugs, said Thomas. Criminalization “underpins and exacerbates” the stigma and discrimination that these groups already face, creating barriers that prevent them from accessing other essential health services. The impacts of criminalization are especially damaging because those causing harm – including governments, law enforcement, and health care providers – are often the very individuals and institutions tasked with protecting and caring for marginalized communities, she said. Adolescents and young people are another key population often left out of conversations about SRH and UHC. Due to cultural norms and individual morals surrounding sexuality, providers are often not welcoming of young people seeking SRH care and may even scold them for engaging in sexual activity, said Simelane. This treatment discourages youth from seeking needed services. As a young Swazi woman, you are treated as a child, even at the health center, she said. Family planning terminology and the vastness of services under the family planning umbrella can also create barriers for young people. Family planning translates differently to a 16-year-old who isn’t planning for a family and who might need information on HIV testing, but doesn’t know where to access that information, said Simelane. This confusion and lack of youth directed services often “filters” young people out and results in them not seeking needed care, she said. Social media is a powerful tool to include communities directly in service planning and provision. “Ten years ago, when I tested positive, it dawned upon me that young people are actually on social media,” trying to engage with each other, said Simelane. “So why not bring the information that they need to them on these social media streets?” Nevertheless, there are huge disparities in access to digital services, particularly for marginalized groups, said Thomas. COVID-19 is exacerbating the effects of this digital divide. Because of this, social media efforts must be paired with on-the-ground work, she said. Whether it’s in the digital or physical space, marginalized and criminalized communities worldwide need to be part of our health response, including sexual and reproductive health, to make universal health coverage a reality, she said.
Episode 246: John Scanlon on the Case for Criminalizing Wildlife Trafficking under International Law
10:08“The world is still feeling the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic which most likely had its origins in a wild animal,” says John Scanlon AO, Former Secretary-General of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Chair of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, in this week’s Friday Podcast. Scanlon spoke at a recent Wilson Center event on the connections between wildlife crime, human health, and security. “We need to recalibrate our relationship with nature for many compelling interrelated reasons, including to protect biodiversity, combat climate change, and to prevent future pandemics,” says Scanlon. “This is going to require profound changes in how we regulate the taking, trade, and consumption of wildlife, how we combat wildlife crime, and how we manage and finance the protection of wildlife at its source.” Currently, there is no global agreement for combatting wildlife crime. CITES, a 50-year-old global agreement that exists to regulate international trade in wildlife only considers biological risks to a species’ survival and does not take into account the risks to human or animal health. We need to adopt a One Health approach to regulating wildlife trade that considers the biological impacts on human and animal health, says Scanlon. However, CITES member states remain wary of expanding the treaty’s mandate to include human and animal health criteria. Another approach, proposed by the global health community, is to include legally binding commitments in an international pandemics treaty to prevent the spillover of viruses and other pathogens from wild animals to people. Not only does wildlife crime endanger health, but it also comes at a financial cost. The World Bank estimates that illicit wildlife trafficking and the impacts of these crimes on ecosystems cost the global economy a staggering $1-2 trillion a year. Scanlon says that a new international agreement is needed to criminalize wildlife trafficking. “It would apply to any species of wild fauna and flora, including fish and timber species, that is protected under any international or importantly, any national law.” Such an agreement would perform needed functions including, “setting out the conduct that should be criminalized, committing states to make it a criminal offence to import any wildlife it is being acquired in contravention of the national laws at the source country, and on the exchange of critically important information.” An international agreement on wildlife trafficking has been publicly endorsed by the presidents of Costa Rica and Gabon and, if adopted, would be the first time that a crime significantly impacting the environment is embedded into the international criminal law framework, says Scanlon. “If we get it right, the local communities living amongst wildlife and the governments of source countries, as well as our global biodiversity, climate health and security will all be beneficiaries.” “We’re struggling to combat climate change and staring down the loss of a million species. Given the scale of the risk to people and planet, we must ratchet up both our national and global response,” says Scanlon. By promoting changes to the existing international legal framework, we can change how states commit to working with each other to help avoid future pandemics and to end wildlife crime in a manner that delivers multiple local and global benefits.
Episode 245: The Cost of Care: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Exacerbated the Baby Bust
20:01The decision to have a child usually requires a feeling of stability and confidence in the future, says Natascha Braumann, Director of Global Government and Public Affairs for Fertility at EMD Serono, on this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts. But with COVID-19, especially in the first months of the pandemic, there was no feeling of stability. “No one knew what was going to happen.”The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated decades of slow population growth in many high-income countries. Many factors have led to the decline in birth rates. One positive factor is the advancement of women in society. “For the past few decades, women have spent more time in education,” says Braumann. “They’ve spent more time climbing the ladder at work, so to speak.” Progress on gender equity and access to modern contraception contribute to this decline. Yet women don’t necessarily want fewer children. Evidence shows that people generally have fewer children than they say is ideal, says Braumann. Financial struggles are part of the equation. In high-income countries, families often must rely on income from both parents to live, particularly in urban areas. Childcare costs also factor into these decisions. When taken in aggregate, shifting roles for women, financial stress, and high costs of care influence individuals’ choice to delay childbearing, which then leads to lower fertility rates, says Braumann. Policies tend to favor government-funded care for the old rather than the young, because voting populations in democracies are increasingly old. To increase birth rates, policymakers must consider factors like the cost of caregiving. If you look at those countries like France, where the gap between the ideal number of children and the actual number of children is fairly low, you see countries that have a very robust and well-funded government system of providing day care, says Braumann.The discussion about a pandemic baby bust fails to acknowledge how intentional delays in childbearing are occurring only in high-income countries, says Braumann, where women have reproductive choices available to them and can delay childbearing in times of uncertainty. In low- and middle-income countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed clinics, delayed services, and reduced access to contraception, which has increased rates of unintended pregnancies. “And that is a backsliding of huge progress that’s been made over the last years,” says Braumann, “and a really tragic and distressing side effect of the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns that happened.” The COVID-19 pandemic made clear what many families around the world already knew: having children is expensive and challenging. “Everyone saw the very fragile construct of many modern families come crashing down in a very short amount of time,” says Braumann. People with children will think more critically about having more, and people without children who saw the misery that those families went through, will also think long and hard about having children in the future, she says. That goes double for women who were torn between all the different responsibilities that often fell on their shoulders, says Braumann. “And I think there's no easy solution to that. But it's going to linger over the next years.”
Episode 244: A Conversation with Dr. Nahid Toubia: Bodily Autonomy and the 2021 State of World Population Report
28:29Bodily autonomy is something almost innate in us, and yet also a Eureka moment for many people, says Dr. Nahid Toubia, Director for the Institute of Reproductive Health and Rights in Sudan on this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts. “Every human being really has the right to own their body, to own their decisions, to own their choices regarding their life, their futures, how they want to live, who they want to partner, whether they want to have children or not, what kind of families they want to have,” she says. “So, all of these choices are all wrapped up in this concept of body autonomy.” While some view bodily autonomy as a “luxury issue,” or secondary to other essential issues such as nutrition, housing, political participation, and poverty, “[bodily autonomy] actually is the basis for all these other issues that we want to get at,” says Dr. Toubia. Women cannot get an education or participate in the economy if somebody else controls their body, she says. Without bodily autonomy, “everything else is not going to happen.”For Dr. Toubia, discussing the complexities of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 2021 State of the World Population report was monumental. “I really applaud UNFPA for the courage that they have produced this report and increasingly handling, you know, more what people see as peripheral or controversial issues,” says Dr. Toubia. “But it's okay, somebody needs to push the envelope, as they say.” Other UN and U.S. agencies need to follow and a critical first step is to adopt the language of bodily autonomy into their guidelines, proposals, partnerships with local communities, and programs to make bodily autonomy something people truly understand, she says. Dr. Toubia approaches FGM, one of the clearest attacks on bodily autonomy, from an “African feminist perspective.” While women need allies, they must speak for themselves, she says. “So one of the things we did very early and we still continue to do, even in a place like Sudan, is to bring forth the voice, number one, the first person who is important in this, the woman, herself, the girl who was cut.” When women are given a safe space to discuss this harm, they open up and speak about their experiences. “And that's where change happens,” she says.The language used to discuss these issues is also crucial, says Dr. Toubia. While Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is widely used and is instrumental in centering human rights in sexual and reproductive health, the term can be too complex for the average person to understand. SRHR provides an “umbrella” to demand broad systems-level change, whereas bodily autonomy is more immediate, centering on the individuals themselves. For that reason, she says “bodily autonomy is more understandable than sexual and reproductive health and rights.”This linguistic shift has provided a newfound sense of agency, empowering people to voice and claim this most fundamental of rights, says Dr. Toubia. “And now suddenly there is a word, there is some language for it: I deserve to be autonomous. I deserve to own my body,” she says. “And I think that’s a huge, a huge step forward.”
Episode 243: Sue Biniaz on Getting the U.S. Back on Track for Climate Action
11:23“The more the United States can get itself back on track, the better position it is in to exercise climate leadership,” says Sue Biniaz, a member of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s team, in today’s Friday Podcast. Biniaz spoke about the Biden-Harris administration’s international climate policy at a recent Wilson Center event on climate security risks in the Arctic. In her remarks, Biniaz outlined four overarching themes in President Biden’s January 27th Executive Order: renewing the United States’ climate objectives; exercising U.S. climate leadership; raising global climate ambition; and putting climate at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security. Rejoining the Paris Agreement and re-upping the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—national climate action plans where parties to the Paris Agreement are set to maintain national emission targets and implement policies and measures in response to climate change—are “key elements” towards getting the United States back on track for climate action. But it’s also about raising ambition. After the Paris Agreement’s focus on keeping temperature rise below 2ºC, the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC made clear the need to increase the scale and speed of climate action, says Biniaz. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no conference of the parties (COP) and countries didn’t revisit their NDCs in 2020 as planned. This creates added pressure, but also opportunity for 2021, says Biniaz, because determining a new collective temperature goal, a timeline for achieving net zero emissions, and increasing 2030 emission targets will be addressed and dealt with. To exercise U.S. climate leadership, says Biniaz, the Biden administration is “making climate change a priority and integrating it into both bilateral diplomacy and a wide range of international fora.” This includes reconvening the Major Economies Forum—a meeting of countries that represent about 80 percent of global emissions, population, and GDP—and holding a Leaders’ Climate Summit held on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. The appointment of John Kerry as the first-ever special presidential envoy for climate is another demonstration of U.S. leadership. “Our whole team has been actively involved in climate diplomacy in the last several weeks, both to align on goals and to try to raise ambition particularly among the major economies.” Kerry has been pressing countries, at least the major economies, to commit to net zero emissions no later than 2050 and to “not only to commit to the goal but to say here's how we intend to get there.” In her September 2020 contribution to a Wilson Center and adelphi project, 21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy is Climate Policy, Biniaz wrote, “Climate change has too many sources, on the one hand, and implications, on the other, to be either ignored or treated as a niche issue with little or no bearing on other fields.” “The Executive Order makes very clear,” Biniaz says, “climate change is at the center of foreign policy and national security.”
Episode 242: A Conversation with Marisa O. Ensor on Securitizing Youth and Youth’s Role in Peace and Security Agendas
18:51“I've been quite impressed by the wide diversity and complexity of young women's and men's engagement for peacebuilding and development often while confronting seemingly insurmountable challenges,” says Marisa O. Ensor, Adjunct Professor in the Justice and Peace Studies Program at Georgetown University, in this week’s Friday Podcast. In her new edited volume, “Securitizing Youth: Young People's Roles in the Global Peace and Security Agenda,” contributors cover a wide set of topics that impact youth, peace, and security, including violence, gender dynamics, social media, climate change, and forced displacement. Young people's position in society is shaped by a number of variables, like age, gender, ethnicity, and religion, says Ensor. This means that the experiences of young women are very different from those of their male counterparts. Yet, often the term “youth” tends to be equated with males. “The category of female youth is not even recognized in some parts of the world,” says Ensor. At the same time, she says, the term “gender” continues to be equated with women. “This remains highly problematic.” The number of youth today is larger than it has been at any other time in human history, but it is not evenly distributed across the globe. 600 million young people live in conflict-affected regions, and youth make up a majority of the population in the world's least developed countries. If one hopes to understand the situation on the ground in these countries, one absolutely needs to pay attention to the experiences of youth, says Ensor. It's also important to avoid essentializing youth, she says, because they don't constitute a monolithic or homogenous category any more than their older counterparts.“Pathways to peace can take many different forms in different parts of the world,” says Ensor. She’d like to see more investments and partnerships when it comes to young people’s inclusion in broader security and peacebuilding initiatives and dialogues. “We need to acknowledge the multiple barriers—structural and cultural barriers—that constrain young people's meaningful inclusion,” she says. Young people, even when they lack the experience, connections, or resources, still bring energy and enthusiasm and their particular kind of knowledge of the situation on the ground. “This must be recognized and valued with young people viewed as equal and essential partners.” Narratives on global youth remain saturated with concerns of youth as a threat and liability. In response to this, Ensor says, “We need to bear in mind that resilience is not the opposite of vulnerability.” Young women and men can be both vulnerable and resilient, often simultaneously, especially in the less developed, fragile contexts where the majority of them live, she says. “Policy and programming must be informed by these much more complex realities if they are to be inclusive and effective and sustainable.”
Episode 241: Reviving Culture Through First Nations Midwifery
27:42“It's more than just clinical care. It's cultural. It's connection to country. It's connection to land. It's all of those things that are important to the woman and family, kinship, babies,” says Mel Briggs, a First Nations midwife in Australia, speaking about the importance of Aboriginal midwifery in this week’s Friday Podcast. Like her great-grandmother, Briggs followed the call to midwifery and finds joy in helping women and families “create really healthy, chunky, fat babies.” “First Nations people of Australia hold the oldest bloodline and the oldest living culture on the planet,” says Briggs. Their midwifery practices existed long before colonization, but due to colonization, Aboriginal models of care were “taken away from us” in favor of Western medical models, she says. Australia is currently home to 30,000 dual registered nurse-midwives, but only 300 identify as Aboriginal. A history of colonization has impacted birth practices and led to poor health outcomes in First Nations communities. For example, the introduction of Western foods into Aboriginal communities has led to high rates of chronic diseases, like obesity. Chronic illnesses affect maternal health and often lead to pregnancies being considered high-risk. For Briggs, this means the women she supports don’t have the option to birth at home and must birth in a hospital setting. “When you look at the medical model, it’s not the woman’s fault that these things have happened to them. It’s the society and it’s the models that have done this,” says Briggs. Older generations of Aboriginal people “hunted and they gathered and they were healthy and fit… let’s go back to that. Let’s just do that… and then the next generation, we’ll have a generation of those women who will be able to birth at home and be healthy and well.” Since many First Nations women give birth in hospitals, Briggs supports birthing mothers in cultural practices before and after they go to deliver. “When we're in that space, the women are actually healing, so that they can birth peacefully and calmly. And that gives them strength going into a place where they're going to be controlled,” says Briggs.Briggs recalled a recent hospital birth experience that respectfully bridged the gap between the medical model and First Nations traditional practices. The birthing woman, who Briggs described as “strong in her culture,” told the hospital staff that when her baby was born, she didn’t want them to speak. She stressed the importance of her child’s first heard word being in her language and when her baby was born, she and Briggs said “Walawaani,” which means ‘I hope you had a safe journey.’ “It was like a big celebration,” says Briggs. “Everybody just started crying.” It was nice to include the hospital staff in Aboriginal traditions, says Briggs. “Even though we needed to use an obstetric medical, clinical intervention, it was still respecting culture. And that's what needs to happen.”Bringing healthy babies into the world and supporting women on their motherhood journey will allow her community to “grow and thrive,” says Briggs. “It's taken a very long time, 230 years, in fact. We've been controlled and oppressed for a very long time. I just feel like, It's time. It's time for our people to thrive, and to be equal.”