Month: May 2014

Girls Education-June Post

We need to talk about periods!

Every month, girls and women from around the world, regardless of race, religion, caste or creed, will experience something unique to women. Without this, human beings would not exist, because this is a sign that women are able to produce life. What is this special thing? Can you guess? It is a period. P-E-R-I-O-D. A period is a visual sign that a woman’s reproductive system is functioning properly, that a woman can have a baby if she wishes, and in my community, it’s a sign that a girl has transitioned from girlhood to womanhood. A period is a completely natural process. But why is it that some women and girls are ostracized in their communities every month because of this? I asked a young woman about her menstrual health. She said, “When I got my period, I was very young and my mother had not told me anything about it. I was so scared and I didn’t know what had happened to me. When I asked my mother, she just laughed and gave me some cloth …

Nancy Termini

Choosing the Path of Midwifery

This month we celebrated International Day of the Midwife – a day that not only highlights the critical work of midwives, but also rallies stakeholders across the world to invest in the future of midwifery. Thanks to their expertise, all counties have seen dramatic improvements in maternal mortality, yet we are still short in achieving the Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. To achieve this, we not only need more midwives, but professionally trained ones. In 2011, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), published The State of the World’s Midwifery report which surveyed 58 countries and revealed a global shortage of an estimated 350 000 midwives – a third of which were needed in the world’s poorest countries. The second of its kind will be published this year and will examine availability, accessibility and quality of the midwifery workforce, including profiles of 73 countries. Midwives face many challenges, from working in unsanitary conditions to lack of necessary equipment and medicine. And they do much more than deliver babies. The impact of midwives extends …

Woman in Afghanistan

Birthing in Afghanistan: Glimmers of hope

When I visited Gulpari,* I found her sitting in the corner of a room. Given the hot summer weather outside, the room was surprisingly dark and damp. On the other side of the room, her 18-month old daughter lies asleep on the floor, covered with flies, with only a thin sheet separating them from her small face and body. Her two older daughters run around semi-naked in the small courtyard outside. Next to Gulpari, a tightly swaddled newborn baby girl lies quietly in a crudely made cradle. In a country where boys are prized, having another girl does not bode well for this Afghan mother. Gulpari once gave birth to a baby boy. She recalls how his head got stuck after his body was born and when his head finally came out hours later, he was stillborn. Since then, Gulpari and a few of her local friends have attended a safe childbirth course. The course gives poor, uneducated women some basic self-help measures for pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and trigger points for referral …

Rowan Mykonos Sunset 021

Menstruation and Me

Originally published on The Huffington Post I have an interesting relationship with my period. I don’t have one. Two years ago I changed my birth control method from the pill to an intrauterine device (IUD). What I learned afterwards is that losing your monthly visits from ‘Aunt Flo’ is a common side effect — a side effect that is now my reality. But that wasn’t always the case. I have been a late bloomer my entire life. I didn’t get my first tooth until I was 18 months old; I didn’t start my growth spurt until midway through high school; and, perhaps most shockingly, I didn’t get my first period until I was 17 years old. Throughout my teen years, my friends found comfort in each other’s shared complaints over menstrual cramps, mood swings and menstrual-related fatigue. I listened to their stories, unaware of what menstruation actually felt like and unable to contribute to conversation. I was a silent outsider. But then my period came. And it came with a vengeance. Perhaps it was making …

Image c/o Irise International

Menstruation Matters Because Girls Matter. Period.

Written by Dr. Emily Wilson-Smith – Chair of Irise International  Before I even set foot in Uganda as a teenager I had anticipated period horror. I took myself to my general practitioner and explained that the combination of a pit latrine and a period just wasn’t going to work out for me. There was nothing for it but for him to give me the pill. It took me another five years to work out that women and girls in Uganda had to endure the pit latrine-period combo every month and that it didn’t really work for them either. It is fair to say I was a bit slow in coming to this conclusion. A group of girls had to spell it out for me during some research in their school. Menstruation wasn’t even on my radar. They explained that they could not afford pads and were using rags, leaves and even corn husks. Menstruation was taboo and they were confused by myths and a general lack of knowledge about their own bodies. I spent the …

Stand Up Tall and Break the Taboo of Menstruation in Africa

Originally published on Huffington Post.  Unlike many believe, menstrual health is not just a ‘women’s issue’. We need to get people – boys and girls, men and women – to talk openly about menstrual health in every part of the world. Female hygiene should be at the top of each government’s list of priorities. In 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that ‘the greatest return comes from investing in girls and women. When they are educated, they drive development in their families, communities and nations. ‘ Without access to toilets, sanitation facilities, menstrual pads and information, girls and women are unable to be the drivers of development they have the potential to be. While many governments and non-governmental organizations support several issues affecting girls and women in developing countries, menstrual hygiene management often gets overlooked. Millions of girls in sub-Saharan Africa do not attend school due to taboos and stigma related to menstruation. They do not have access to proper sanitary pads and instead they have to improvise with mattresses, blankets, newspaper, rugs or …

Emma Saloranta from Girls' Globe asks Melinda Gates a question in the Press Conference.

Girls’ Globe and the 2013 Women Deliver Conference – One Year Later

Has it already been one year since the 2013 Women Deliver Conference? Where has the time gone? Although it may seem as if the conference was only yesterday, a lot has happened over the past year. The 2013 Women Deliver Conference was not only a remarkable occasion for various actors within the realm of international development to get together to discuss solutions and take action for women’s and girls’ well-being and health around the globe. This conference was the first time the Girls’ Globe team met face-to-face. It was at this place that the seed was planted for Girls’ Globe to grow into the youth-driven advocacy and communications organization that we are today. And since then, we’ve been active! Since the 2013 Women Deliver Conference, the Girls’ Globe team has tirelessly advocated for the rights and health of women and girls around the world – and we are getting the world’s attention! In the past year alone, our website has been visited over 160,000 times, more than eight times the amount of views in our …

Image c/o WASH United

28 Reasons Why Menstrual Hygiene Matters

This post was previously published on Buzzfeed. Written by Elisabeth Epstein of Girls’ Globe and Danielle Keiser of WASH United. We  all may know that menstruation is a natural part of the reproductive cycle, but what some may not realize is that in many developing countries, the lack of information about menstrual hygiene, as well as materials themselves, creates a culture of taboos and misinformation about menstruation and potential health risks such as vaginal infections. Today, on the first annual International Menstrual Hygiene Day – the 28th of May, let’s start the conversation about menstruation with these 28 reasons why menstruation matters. 1. Educating girls about menstruation helps increase self esteem, raise grades and raise wages. 2.  Learning about menstruation empowers girls to take care of themselves in brand new ways. Knowing that their period is coming about every month gives girls a newfound and empowering sense of responsibility for their taking care of their bodies. 3. It gives them the freedom to make their own decisions. Learning and understanding what menstrual hygiene options exist for them gives …

Image c/o LunaPads & AFRIpads

Three Innovative Approaches to Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene

Written by Rebecca Fishman and Jordan Teague Tomorrow is Menstrual Hygiene Day – a day to celebrate menstruation and to address the challenges that women and girls around the world face every month. Many live without ways to safely and effectively manage their periods; instead, they live with taboo, stigma and silence. The good news is that there are people all over the world doing something about it! The Menstrual Hygiene Day coalition has over 125 partners working to break the silence, educate women and girls about their bodies, and provide innovative solutions for menstrual hygiene management. Their activities include producing reusable products; delivering kits; one-for-one exchange programs; advocacy and awareness-building; and integrated water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and menstrual hygiene programming. Taboo Busters Many of our partners are working to raise awareness and help women and girls manage a natural and healthy process. Groups like WASH United, MITU Foundation and “Stigma Stopper” Lorrie Lynn King of 50 Cents.Period. are bringing global attention to the basic needs for menstrual management, as well as highlighting solutions. …

Image c/o Irise International

Menstruation Education Poverty: A Ugandan Teenager’s Story.

Written by Joannie Nakakawa Joannie Nakakawa grew up and studied  in Kampala, Uganda. She is married to Paul and now lives in Bristol, United Kingdom. She works with Easton Jubilee Trust as the Somali Education Project Coordinator; running a homework club and a home tutoring service. By the time I started my menstrual life, I had lost my father and mother. This meant that I had lost the only person, mum, who could have sat me down and told me about all the changes in my body. She had been a village nurse hence she would have been in position to explain so many things. In Uganda, it is considered a very private matter and you cannot ask anyone about it. I was not close enough to any of my older sisters to talk about this. The science teachers had taught us about menstruation in school but they had not challenged any of the myths surrounding the subject. Here I was with all these questions about the changing body and with no qualified person to …