New Commission for Race and Ethnicity Hub

Black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth. Why is that okay?


We speak to the lead academic on the forthcoming film, Dr. Jenny Douglas


The Open University has commissioned a fresh and honest film about the disproportionate effect of Covid on Black and Asian communities. The film will air on OpenLearn, as part of the Open University’s free-to-view content for the Diversity Hub.


The leading academic on the film is Dr.Jenny Douglas who has been working in this area for well over thirty years. 


“My parents were from Jamaica, Windrush migrants. My mother became a midwife.  I was very aware of the inequalities they experienced so this was in the sixties and seventies…

…What Covid has done is shine a light on existing inequalities. Some of these have been here for decades. It’s an overlooked area. The work on inequality on health tends to have three foci: 1: poverty; 2) gender, and 3) ethnicity. The problem is, each area operates in isolation. These researchers need to reassess how they do work on inequality and incorporate the other areas to gain a more complete picture.”


“What excites me is the possibility of changing policy and practice with this film, so actually changing these inequalities at a political level,” enthuses Dr.Douglas.


“You’re probably aware that black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women? It’s extraordinary that society is not up in arms about it. We need to be aware of the statistics and what is causing it. How do midwives relate to young black pregnant women? That is the thing that not only excites me, but keeps me going.”


Hamlett Films’s scriptwriter and story editor, Charles Lambert, responds: “After working on films like “Grenfell Tower, Social Murder” we are delighted to be making a film about such contentious and important issues. We are used to making films which don’t flinch from the truth, offering learners honest, but sometimes uncomfortable stories. It will be a pleasure and honour to be working with the leading academics in this field.”