Month: May 2017

In Solidarity with Manchester

The team here at Girls’ Globe wants to extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by the Manchester tragedy. An attack on such vulnerable citizens – children and young people out for a night of entertainment – is especially abhorrent. As mothers, wives, sisters and friends, we can only imagine what the loved ones of the victims are going through. At Girls’ Globe, we have always believed in the good in people, difficult though that may be to remember in the face of such senseless violence. Without overlooking the pain and suffering that many will face in the coming days, we urge everyone to remember the displays of solidarity and humanity this has brought out; the rapid response on social media from supporters, the stalling of political campaigning, nearby strangers offering spare rooms in their homes for those stranded, taxis offering free rides for those who couldn’t get home, or simply a place to get coffee and wait for news as it developed. The human reaction to fear is most often more fear, and anger, …

Fistula in Her Words

As storytellers mobilizing support through narratives, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to do so without jeopardizing the privacy or dignity of the people we serve. Today marks International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, and we’ve been reflecting on an important question: How do we, as fundraisers, clinicians and global health advocates, talk about fistula without imposing our own narrative and excluding women from their own stories? How do we talk about fistula? Obstetric fistula is one of the hardest global health topics to discuss. Women living with fistula are some of the most vulnerable in the world. Each has survived a prolonged, obstructed labor, which could have killed them, only to survive with lifelong morbidities. Women who survive obstructed labor often lose their baby. The babies that survive can suffer lifelong neurological disease caused by reduced oxygen levels during labor. These babies may suffer paralysis and developmental deficits. In addition to the chronic incontinence that comes when a fistula develops, the women who survive this dangerous labor often experience foot drop, infertility, internal scarring …

Girls’ Globe Book Tour: Finland

Finnish literature echoes the country’s vast forests, icy winters and endless summer nights. But also, at times, the conservatism and racism, social gaps, and haunting memories from the two world wars. At its best, it’s dark, witty, and brave – particularly the works of these five writers. Outside of Finland, Tove Jansson (1914-2001) is best known as the creator of the wildly popular Moomins. Jansson was a multitalented artist who wrote and illustrated fiction for children and adults. She also led an ‘unconventional’ life, choosing never to marry or have children, but instead to put her artistry first. She often approached taboo themes, for instance, she incorporated her romantic relationships with women in her stories. (In Finland, homosexuality was considered an illness until 1981.) The Summer Book is set on an island in the Finnish archipelago. Sophia and her grandmother spend the summer on the remote island, observing and living in harmony with the animals, birds and natural forces around them. It’s a quiet and soothing story about the sea, friendship, life and death, written without beautifying filters or nostalgia. I only …

Fight Your Battle One Seat at a Time

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m sitting in a very comfortable seat at London City airport – one out of five airports located in and around London. I’m flying out and into City every week due to work commitments and my regular morning outbound flight is boarding soon. I’m killing the time till then with an overpriced coffee and fruit salad from a local cafe. I’m looking around and what I see is more than a little bit frustrating – just like it was last week and the week before that, and the week before that. I see men. Many of them! In suits and with suitcases more expensive than the entire contents of my suitcase combined. They hold Financial Times or City AM newspapers, chat to each other (they seem to be here in groups or pairs at least) and discuss the latest football match from the weekend and/ or their golf plans for the bank holiday coming up. And there I am – tired of seeing middle aged (mostly white) men in expensive suits chatting about boys’ stuff while women …

Politics in the face of FGM: Kenya Edition

Kenya is scheduled to hold presidential elections this coming August. In every election cycle, citizens engage in dialogue and negotiations with their respective political aspirants regarding pressing local issues. Based on past election cycles, these issues include infrastructure, healthcare, education, sanitation, food, security and peace – among others. In democratic societies, communication between leadership and citizens ensures that information vital to the existence, survival and development of constituents is available to them in a timely and balanced manner. Thus, the visible silence regarding harmful cultural practices by the candidates vying for the various positions in Kenya this year is hugely significant. Given the officialdom associated with  legislators such as Members of County Assembly (MCAs), Members of Parliament (MPs) and other elected officials, the campaign period provides a perfect opportunity for members of the public to access  prospective power wielders. This is particularly important because, apart from being eventually responsible for representing their people both at county and national level, legislators are responsible for making and amending laws. An early encounter can create a rapport between citizens …

What Let Girls Learn Has Taught Me

Michelle Obama smells amazing. When she wrapped her arms around me for a hug after speaking on her Let Girls Learn initiative, the first thing I thought was holy shit Michelle Obama is giving me a hug, and secondly, wow she smells so good. It was a sweltering Washington D.C. July afternoon but the First Lady seemed unbothered by the heat. Instead, she brought inspiration, poise, and grace with her: “You all are here today because someone believed in you, because someone gave you the chance to be everything you would want to be.” That line stuck with me then and continues to remind me both that I am worthy of my opportunities, and so are the amazing people around me. But on that July afternoon, I was thinking, what did I want to be? Who believes in me? And what sort of girl do I have the potential to be? It was a question I asked myself a lot that summer. I was a Teen Advisor for the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign and had …

India, Thank You for Re-energizing Me!

In front of me stands a woman in a blue saree. She is sharing her experiences as a female farmer in rural Tamil Nadu, India. We have gathered under a couple of trees to shield ourselves from the broiling sun and while we are talking, the cows standing in the yard are dipping their whole heads while drinking water from a bucket, trying to cool down in the summer heat. As the woman in the blue saree tells me how old she was when she got married, I can only stare at her in disbelief. Of course I knew that child marriage exists in India, but this is the first time I’ve actually met a woman who got married when she was only thirteen years old. Although it has been prohibited in India since 2006, child marriage is still practiced regularly and India has the highest number of child brides in the world. According to Girls Not Brides, in 2016, 47% of all girls under 18 years old were already married. As I try to regain my composure and wrap …

Let’s Talk Equality: Midwives of the World – Part 1

In order to reach a completely equal society, all basic human rights need to be secured. One of these is maternal health. The success of a country can often be traced back to successful maternal health programming. Therefore, my project partner Anna and I decided to create a documentary series about midwives around the world. To create this documentary and to get a fair picture of the situation for mothers and midwives around the world, we have collaborated with the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA). The WRA is an incredible organization for maternal health, and a network for volunteers  from all over the world. We decided to focus on White Ribbon Alliance Indonesia, or “APPI” (Aliansi Pita Putih Indonesia), and visited their team in Jakarta earlier this year. With the three parts of our documentary, we hope to do two things. One is to present a fair picture and comparison of the maternal health situation in Sweden and Indonesia. The other is to inspire people to make a change in their local communities, just like the volunteers …

Celebrating Midwives with Voices from Around the World

Illustration for Girls’ Globe by Laiza Onofre Today is the International Day of the Midwife and we’ve collected voices of women and midwives from around the world to celebrate the important work midwives do as health professionals, leaders and partners, and in safeguarding the human rights of women and girls. “I think midwives are women’s best friends – wanting every woman to feel free, strong and beautiful through every stage of life and womanhood.” – Caroline, Mother, Sweden “I love it as a midwife when I help women deliver safely until both mama and baby are discharged home both healthy. Maternal death and stillbirths, although relatively rare, just break my heart.” Malerotholi, Midwife, Lesotho “My midwife was fantastic and I hope to meet her and tell her. She is responsible for making the welcoming of our daughter a calm and safe experience where I felt that she would do anything for me and our baby and she also made the father feel safe and included.” – Sofi, Mother, Finland “There are so many ways that midwives partner with …

Celebrating Midwives & Partnerships that Matter

The lifetime risk of a woman dying from pregnancy and childbirth related complications in Kenya is high, at 1 in 55. According to latest data by UNICEF, the maternal mortality ratio in Kenya is 488 per 100,000 live births is unacceptably high. Only approximately 44 per cent of births are assisted by a skilled health worker, mainly a nurse or a midwife. Skilled attendance and particularly the role of the midwife continues to be advanced as a global priority and effective intervention for safer motherhood. The International Day of the Midwife, May 5th, is a day to celebrate the wonderful work midwives are doing around the world. I, Felogene Anumo, a Girls Globe Blogger had the opportunity to speak to Rachel Odoro who has over sixteen years of midwifery practice and is currently the Assistant Chief Nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). She shares the highs and lows of her career and offers crucial perspectives on this year’s theme Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life! What inspired you to be a midwife? If a …