Cyprus along with seven other countries on Tuesday managed to get ‘midwifery: knowledge, skills, and practices’ registered on UNESCO’s list of intangible culture heritage, Deputy Culture Minister Vasiliki Kassianidou said.

The island was joined by Colombia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Slovenia and Togo to submit the proposal, which was approved and put on the list of intangible cultural heritage.

“Midwifery is based on evidence-based practices and traditional knowledge, skills and techniques. It varies according to the social, cultural and natural contexts of different communities and countries, and sometimes includes knowledge of traditional medicine and of medicinal plants and herbs. Midwifery also entails specific cultural practices, vocabulary, celebrations, and rituals,” UNESCO said.

Kassianidou said: “This reference [inclusion of midwifery] makes us particularly happy, because it is in line with the efforts of our deputy ministry to upgrade cultural diplomacy in our country.”

According to representative of the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO Thekla Papantoniou, “midwifery, as a practice, is not limited to the health sector. It goes beyond the simple act of ‘having babies’”.

It involves traditions and customs, creates bonds between members of the community and through the way it is practiced, contributes to a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances surrounding birth as a stage in the life cycle, she said.

“Midwives pass on the wisdom they have inherited, emotionally support mothers and new parents, thus laying the foundations for healthy relationships between family members on the occasion of the arrival of a baby into the world,” Papantoniou said.

The minister added that to date, Cyprus has inscribed another five items on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which “demonstrates our will to preserve, for future generations and the global community, the intangible cultural heritage – which is the living our tradition”.

According to Kassianidou the aim is for intangible cultural heritage of Cyprus to survive as a recognisable feature of the island’s cultural identity, and to be adapted and passed on from generation to generation.

UNESCO says that the importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a state and is as important for developing states as for developed ones.