LACTATION EQUITY ACTION COMMITTEE

The Lactation Equity Action Committee: A Brief History and ILCA's Role

Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM

The Lactation Equity Action Committee (LEAC), as it is called today, began under a different name in 2013 as part of the Lactation Consultant Equity Initiative. While the name, membership, and work of the group has evolved since its founding, its focus has always been on increasing equitable access to the IBCLC profession. Two educational events have been planned and implemented since 2013: the 2014 Lactation Summit and the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar. LEAC is currently planning the 2016 Lactation Equity Action Committee Global Forum.

 

The Lactation Consultant Equity Initiative Begins

In 2013, the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®), International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®), and Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) recognized the need to formally assess and address inequitable access to the IBCLC profession. This recognition was the result of increasing awareness of institutional oppression in the field of breastfeeding and of the long-standing work of many other individuals and organizations to dismantle it. As an initial step, an independent Design Team was developed to plan and conduct an educational event that would facilitate learning about barriers to entering the IBCLC profession. This event was one part of ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC’s broader initiative, the Lactation Consultant Equity Initiative, to identify and address barriers inequitably restricting access to the profession.

  


ILCA's Role 

ILCA joined with IBLCE and LEAARC to launch an initiative to assess and address inequitable access to the IBCLC profession.

ILCA joined with IBLCE and LEAARC to call for the creation of an educational event that would facilitate learning about barriers to entering the IBCLC profession experienced around the world.



 

The 2014 Lactation Summit

Representatives from many different social groups and countries, as well as from ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC, gathered as members of the 2014 Lactation Summit Design Team. These 22 volunteers worked together for a year under the leadership of Design Team Chair Cathy Carothers, BLA, IBCLC, FILCA, to create and implement the 2014 Lactation Summit, Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession.” The Summit was co-hosted by ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC on 27 July 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona, USA—the day after the conclusion of the 2014 ILCA Conference. Judi Lauwers, BA, IBCLC, FILCA, served as the Summit Coordinator.

Prior to the Summit, registered participants were invited to review a Suggested Reading List and to attend the pre-Summit webinar, “Ready, Set, Listen! Preparing to Hear the Missing Voices of the Lactation Consultant Profession,” presented on July 12, 2014 by Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM, and hosted by GOLD Conferences International and the GOLD Lactation Conference. A recording of the pre-Summit webinar is archived on GOLD Learning.

The demand to attend the free Summit was unexpectedly so great that an additional satellite room was needed to accommodate all participants. Sherry Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, served as the Primary Summit Facilitator and Kendall Cox, BA, IBCLC, served as the Satellite Summit Facilitator in an adjacent room with live audio streaming. Attendees listened to and shared perspectives, obstacles, and challenges disproportionately experienced by the members of a variety of social groups across the globe. Many participants and speakers received travel support provided by 23 individuals and 17 organizations, including ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC.

A total of 120 individuals and representatives of stakeholder organizations from 12 countries attended the Summit. A globally and socially diverse group of 26 speakers shared barriers commonly experienced in geographically and ethnically bound communities (i.e., African Americans in the US, Hispanics in the US, Native Americans in the US, North and South America, Asia Pacific, Russia and Europe) as well as in communities that are not bound by geography or ethnicity (i.e., men, lay breastfeeding support groups, those working in remote regions, and members of the LGBTQI communities).

The 2014 Lactation Summit Design Team co-authored a Summary Report, including an Executive Summary, compiling the findings and recommendations of the Summit. Barriers to entry to the IBCLC profession that were described at the Summit include those related to institutional oppression, the application process, educational requirements, clinical requirements, pathways, finding a mentor, language barriers, financial constraints, and job availability and security. The Summary Report recommended that 1) individuals learn more about inequity, privilege, oppression, and how to help remove barriers to the IBCLC profession, 2) lactation-related organizations, including the host organizations, engage in the systemic analysis and dismantling of institutional oppression, 3) the process of learning about barriers to the profession be continued, and 4) an action plan to remove those barriers be developed and accomplished. The Summary Report was published in December 2014.

  


ILCA's Role

Representatives from ILCA served on the independent 2014 Lactation Summit Design Team.

ILCA co-hosted the 2014 Lactation Summit.

ILCA provided funding for travel support to increase equitable access to attending the 2014 Lactation Summit.

ILCA disseminated the 2014 Lactation Summit Summary Report and archived it on its website.



The 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar

The exploratory work of the 2014 Lactation Summit continued after the event itself concluded. The 2014 Lactation Summit Design Team was renamed the Lactation Equity Team and carried on its work under the ongoing leadership of Cathy Carothers, Chair. From this diverse group, a sub-committee was formed to plan and implement the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar under the leadership of Sahira Long, MD, IBCLC, and Tamentanefer Lumukanda, IBCLC.

The half-day Seminar, “Breaking Down Barriers to the IBCLC Profession,” was held on 21 July 2015 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA—the day before the commencement of the 2015 ILCA Conference. Support for the 2015 Seminar was again provided by ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC, as well as by Health-e Learning, the District of Columbia Breastfeeding Coalition, and many other organizations and individuals. Prior to the Summit, registered participants were invited to view a pre-Summit webinar, “2014 Lactation Summit: Steps to Dismantling Inequities in the Lactation Profession,” presented by Cathy Carothers and Sherry Payne on May 4, 2015 and hosted by GOLD Conferences International and the GOLD Lactation Conference.

The Seminar was co-facilitated by Clifton Kenon Jr., DNP, RN, IBCLC, and Kathi Barber, BS, CLEC, and featured a keynote presentation and an interactive workshop. Attendees learned more about the cultural and socioeconomic barriers that contribute to inequitable access to the IBCLC profession, identified and organized around strategies to expand opportunities for social groups disproportionately facing barriers to entry to the IBCLC profession, and learned about action steps taken by ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC in response to the findings of the 2014 Lactation Summit. Workshop participants formed smaller groups focused on identifying barriers and potential solutions for the members of various social groups, including indigenous peoples, people of color, men, developing countries, LGBTQI communities, individuals and communities with low socioeconomic status, adolescents, and “Generation Z.”

  


ILCA's Role

Representatives from ILCA served on the independent Lactation Equity Team.

ILCA co-hosted the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar.


 

The 2016 Lactation Equity Action Committee Forum and Other Meetings

After the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar, the Lactation Equity Team was re-named the Lactation Equity Action Committee (LEAC). Cathy Carothers passed her leadership role to two new co-Chairs: Carole Dobrich, RN, IBCLC, ANLC, and Millie Goins, IBCLC. The leadership and membership of this independent group continues to evolve as it strives to become more proportionately representative of diverse social groups around the world while not becoming too large to function effectively. Representatives from ILCA, IBLCE, and LEAARC continue to serve on the Committee.

The findings of the 2015 Seminar are currently being compiled into a report by members of an LEAC sub-Committee.

Throughout the planning of the 2014 Lactation Summit and the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar, repeated calls were made by Team members for greater integration of equity- and diversity-related educational content within the annual ILCA Conference, instead of as a separate event before or after the Conference. While educational opportunities focused on equity and diversity were recognized as critical, their separate scheduling 1) means greater attendee expense for an additional day of travel and hotel accommodation and 2) conveyed the false message that the issues addressed are only relevant to some lactation specialists and organizations. ILCA responded to these calls by committing to analyzing and redesigning conference structure, content, and processes while still providing support for LEAC’s contributions to the Lactation Consultant Equity Initiative.

The 3-day 2016 ILCA Conference features significant equity- and diversity-related content during the conference, including the LEAC Global Forum, “Equitable Access to IBCLC Certification: Where Do We Go From Here?” The Forum will provide an overview of 1) global barriers to attaining the IBCLC certification, including those related to language, education, and systems of oppression, 2) the history of work conducted by individuals and organizations during the last 2 years, and 3) resources and opportunities for finding solutions. Additional LEAC meetings for conference attendees and for LEAC members are under development.

The Conference also features a plenary session and several concurrent sessions directly focused on equity- and diversity-related issues. The 2nd annual Global Partner’s Meeting takes place the day before the conference begins. And, the plenary and concurrent session speakers and Clinical Skills Facilitators selected for the conference come from around the world.

 


ILCA's Role

Representatives from ILCA serve on the independent Lactation Equity Action Committee.

The 2016 ILCA Conference includes the LEAC Global Forum, “Equitable Access to IBCLC Certification: Where Do We Go From Here?”

The 2016 ILCA Conference will include additional LEAC meetings that are currently being developed.

The 2016 ILCA Conference features significant equity- and diversity-related content, including a plenary session and several concurrent sessions.

The 2016 ILCA Conference features educators from around the world.

ILCA will disseminate the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar Summary Report upon its publication and will also archive it on the ILCA website.


 

{5 January 2016}