Katarzyna Oles

Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when Katarzyna Oles was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Katarzyna is developing an alternative obstetrics system based on independently working midwives that provide full care to families expecting a child. By training independent midwives, revitalizing the profession of midwifery in Poland, and working with medical institutions and families, Katarzyna ultimately seeks to bring dignity back to the child-delivery process and promote child birth as a family bonding experience that marks the beginning stage of good parenting.
Faced with lack of empathy and strong opposition from obstetricians, Katarzyna is working closely with midwives, women and their families to make home childbirth a viable option and promote childbirth outside hospitals and medical clinics. Through a growing association of midwives, she is raising awareness about the value of home birth and once again making it a viable option for pregnant women across Poland. Childbirth houses in southern Poland offer the highest quality child birth care, and act as training and workshop centers for midwives looking to work independently in Poland. Partnerships with willing medical professionals and well-designed media campaigns are once again bringing trust and legitimacy back to the profession of the midwife. With Katarzyna’s leadership, Poland—and eventually, other neighboring countries—will begin to view home birth as a healthy, inspiring process that is preferable to the institutionalized childbirth tradition that has become mainstream.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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