Midwives all over the world will be recognized on Sunday, May 5 as the 23rd annual International Day of the Midwife kicks off. The observation, which has been celebrated since 1991, was started by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) as a way to recognize the contributions of midwives in their respective communities, according to the National Awareness Days website.

The ICM says it is planning a whole raft of events, including a speech by its president to launch the event as well as new, creative forms of social media outreach.

International nurse and midwife organizations say they plan to celebrate the day. The theme this year is "the world needs midwives now more than ever," according to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), which holds 650 midwives as members. "Access to midwifery services is essential," said NZNO nursing adviser Kate Weston in a press release. "Timely access to midwifery care is so important. Early engagement with a midwife with ongoing care through pregnancy protects and promotes positive outcomes for mothers, babies and families."