Caring At The Very Beginning: Transforming Our World Through Birth Justice
WDN member Amanda Coslor joined us for a Q&A on birth justice as an often overlooked way to transform society.
You are heavily involved in the birth justice movement. You are the seed funder and a board member of the Birth Justice Fund at Groundswell Fund, one of the largest birth justice funders in the country, and the Thriving Women’s Initiative at Seven Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, which is bringing back traditional birth practices for Indigenous women. What values and experiences drive your commitment to birth justice?
One of the top indicators for the health of a society is maternal health. Communities and cultures that place high value on maternal and parental health, including access to culturally respectful care and bodily sovereignty experience in birth have improved birth outcomes. Yet, birth justice as a movement has been under-funded and overlooked. Partly because reproductive rights have been prioritized and have ignored intersectional needs of people who are asking for more options on how they want to bring children into the world. Birth justice and reproductive rights are not mutually exclusive. If we pull them together I think we’ll have a bigger impact on all the needs and rights around reproductive health. Birth has a regenerative quality; when we really care about each other’s children and how they come into this world, I believe true community is created.
What funding model or models do you use in your philanthropic work? Why have you chosen to fund with these frameworks?
Intersectionality, deaccumulation of resources, and decolonization are central values to my philanthropy. For me, intersectionality is a spiritual way of looking at our humanity and helps in prioritizing where my funding goes. Additionally, the deaccumulation and decolonization process has meant thinking about my own family’s history of wealth accumulation, then using that history to identify areas I need to channel money to in order to build a world for future generations without the kinds of ruptures my family profited from. Because my family financially benefited from inequity, my hope is to bring more support to the most marginalized communities and, in doing this, I ask myself, “how can I share resources in a way that is sharing power?” That requires trusting relationships.
Tell us more about how you share power through sharing resources and building partnerships.
For me this means giving to Indigenous values, giving without hidden agendas, all in the spirit of reparations. This means being accountable in committed partnerships to the communities I fund. My philanthropy is participatory and trust based where I listen as best I can. To truly listen requires that I do my own internal work, where I work on my own internalized oppression so I can hear what the needs are and truly share power.
I think if I were to truly decolonize my philanthropy I’d fund towards a culture where we’re all included in the caring for one another. Birth justice is my entry point into that. I believe if we create more opportunity for care and abundance at the very beginnings, when families are forming, we’ll see a different world twenty years from now.
You’ve been a member of WDN for ten years, how does your work with us leverage the impact you want to have?
I have deep relationships and community with WDN. It’s a unique position to be a woman who has money. It has its own kind of burden, with it’s own internalized oppressions, and there aren’t many places to talk about the nuances of all of that. WDN gets me out of my own way to leverage my privilege and resources to really give, and give strategically. It’s a network that models listening skills, commitment, and staying in relationship with movement striving for caring communities. I’ve learned so much from being a part of WDN.
Are there any birth justice resources readers need to know about?
You can keep up with the work of the organization and partners I’m involved with, their Twitter accounts are linked here: