Courageous Conversations Together at #ILCA18

The ILCA Equity Committee, launched two years ago, played an important role in the 2018 conference in supporting conversations around equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Equity Committee provided Lactation Matters with this update on the committee’s recent efforts.

Gathering together annually for a time of learning, networking and much more has been a core focus of ILCA. This year, at ILCA’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon, United States, the Equity Committee put in place a number of strategies to help ILCA leaders, staff and members to continue their process of increasing equity on many levels.

Before the conference, the Equity Committee deepened their own skills by participating in an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) training by Dr. Adrienne Coleman, a recognized leader in the EDI field.

All ILCA conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in an onsite session designed to support “Courageous Conversations,” an interactive session helping conference-goers focus on ILCA’s role in inequities in the lactation field. The session, led by Coleman and Traci D. Ellis, J.D., provided both practical tools for engaging in courageous conversations as well as the opportunity for focused discussion around key areas, including reducing US-centrism in the field and increasing access to the profession for those with different abilities and LGBTQIA+ people.

To ensure long-term impact from the session, Dr. Coleman and Ms. Ellis gathered data from each of the discussions with the goal of gathering data to develop a report for the ILCA board. Ultimately, these inputs will be considered as a part of an equity action plan, designed to focus on ways that ILCA can impact both access to the profession as well as increasing families’ access to skilled lactation care around the globe.

The Equity Committee also worked to engage conference attendees throughout the conference by sparking conversations around equity issues. For example, the Equity Committee’s conference booth focused on, “Stories from the Heart.” Throughout the conference, members wrote their stories and shared their experiences at the booth.  We received: 17 selfie cards, 5 interview responses and 5 comment cards. These activities served as important beginnings for engaging ILCA members in conversations on their perspectives of equity issues.

These efforts were a reflection of the recent work of the Equity Committee. Launched just two years ago in 2016, the committee’s goal is to engage the board, members, and staff in increasing equity in the lactation field globally.

Although the Equity Committee feels as though we have just begun, the progress has laid a solid foundation for greater work moving forward.  Srikanthi Bodapati, member of the Equity Committee and first time attendee shared, “The conference helped me understand the broader perspectives of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across the globe with specific reference to the lactation field. I will be able to advocate with policy makers for equity in healthcare for the marginalized communities, especially from countries with poor health indicators. I have gained insights into the language (both verbal and non-verbal) to be used while working with diverse populations. I am also in a position to develop and customize culturally appropriate equity centered frameworks for implementation in low resource countries to promote increased access to skilled lactation care. In the future, I am aspiring to see representation of participants from all the regions of the world at the ILCA Conference.”

The ILCA Equity Committee looks forward to our continued work with the ILCA community.  Please follow our updates for continued work in equity, diversity and inclusion.

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