Alumni Spotlight Interview: Supporting and empowering women - that fascinates me!

Anna Gärtner, Master of Midwifery Science & Women's Health about her commitment to refugee women in Greece with the association ROSA e.V. - Rolling Safespace.

Anna Gärtner, is studying for a Master's degree in Midwifery Science & Women's Health. The consecutive course has been offered by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tübingen (UT) since Spring 2022. Previously, the Weinheim native completed her Bachelor's degree in Midwifery Science at UT. In summer 2022, Anna Gärtner completed a 3-month internship at the non-profit organisation ROSA e.V. - Rolling Safespace and worked as a midwife with refugee women in Greece.


Ms. Gärtner, describe yourself in a hashtag: 

As a scientist, my identity as a woman is an essential part of my role. The hashtag emphasizes my commitment to the advancement of women in science and the challenges we face. My contribution to creating a more equitable scientific world is to participate in the development and implementation of gender-sensitive research methods.

Why did you decide to study midwifery? 

I was actually inspired by a classmate's mother. I liked the idea of working with women and supporting and strengthening them during an important phase of their lives. I then did every school internship in this field and decided early on to become a midwife. Studying at the University of Tübingen gave me an academic degree and a state license to work as a midwife at the same time. That convinced me. 

Part of your Master's degree was an internship abroad. You went to Greece with the non-profit organization ROSA e.V. to support refugee women as a midwife. What does ROSA e.V. do and what was your work like there? 

ROSA e.V. - Rolling Safespace was founded in March 2021 and is committed to gender-equitable aid strategies for women on the move. Since March 2022, the non-profit association has been regularly driving to three refugee shelters on the Greek peninsula of Attica in a converted truck: Ritsona, Malakasa and Oinofyta. The aim is to give women on the run a safe space. The truck serves as a contact point for refugee women to network, retreat and relax. The long-term aim is to prevent the dangers of psychological and physical stress for women on the run. In addition, basic medical care is offered in a small treatment room, usually with a doctor and a midwife. I was this midwife for three months.
In one-to-one meetings, together with an interpreter, the doctor and I tried to advise and triage the women. We listened to their concerns and, if necessary, tried to connect them with other local health organizations or refer them directly. At the same time, we held workshops on health-related topics. At the health workshops or discussion groups, the refugee women were able to get involved and share their knowledge and experiences.

Our crew also consisted of other people. We lived together in a rented house. Our working days were quite structured. In the mornings, we had meetings about work organization, planning our time in the camps and supervision meetings. In the afternoons, we went to the camps and set up the safe space with a privacy screen. We wanted to create a space where the women could simply be themselves. In addition to medical advice and care, there was also childcare, sports and exercise activities and creative workshops.

ROSA e.V. is a German organization that works on the ground in Greece with women who have fled from other countries. How did you deal with cultural differences? 

Fortunately, we had interpreters on site. Over time, refugee women who spoke English also joined us as volunteers and supported us. That was very helpful.

What impact did this internship experience have on you? 

This internship experience has strengthened my awareness of other cultures, of - how should I put this - other perspectives on life, on the world. During the three months, I built close and intense relationships with the crew members and the refugee women. It was a shared journey of empowerment in which we strengthened each other, regardless of our cultural backgrounds.

My farewell was also very emotional. At that moment, I really realized once again how important it is that there are people who are committed to the work of ROSA e.V. and the refugee women. 

You are just about to finish your Master's degree. What plans do you have for the future?

To continue working with ROSA e.V., actually. I'm currently trying to set up a local group in Tübingen. I'm looking for people who want to take part. We also need safe spaces in Germany like the ones we have set up in Greece. And for my professional future: first gaining professional experience, attending births. Looking a little further into the future, I could also imagine doing a PhD.

Interview by Inga van Gessel 

Learn more about ROSA e.V. – Rolling Safespace.