All posts filed under: Health

These posts are about the health and well-being of girls and women around the world, including sexual, reproductive and maternal health.

5 Reasons Why I am Opting for Reusable Sanitary Towels

Post written by Helen Patricia Amutuhaire, Content Developer, Reach A Hand, Uganda I have finally found a solution to my menstrual challenges and it took me a total of 15 minutes. It happened at the Science Cafe hosted by the Health Journalists Network in Uganda (HEJNU) and supported by Reach A Hand, Uganda and UNFPA Uganda. Since 2015, I have been suffering from burns every month due to the use of disposable sanitary pads (towels). Perhaps it’s because my flow has reduced recently or because I am older now (23), or perhaps it’s a reaction to the gel used in the pads. Whatever the reason, the burns put me through hell because the pain is unbearable. The option of tampons is uncomfortable for me, but I still needed to use something. I am still young…these periods are here for a while! The solution became clear as we discussed menstrual hygiene at the Science Cafe. I have been hearing about reusable pads for years now but like a lot of my girlfriends, I was convinced that they are not my kind of thing.  When AFRIpads …

Activism in Indonesia: a movement for change

It has been a couple of weeks since I got back home from an intense week in Indonesia. With our project Let’s Talk Equality, my project partner Anna and I visited several organizations and doctors in the suburbs of Jakarta and Bali. The objective of the trip was to gather footage for our documentary on maternal health in Sweden and Indonesia. I was completely blown away by the positive energy present in every office I visited. Despite facing a lot of resistance, people were determined and confident that it was worth all the work. Having tried to understand the slow and difficult process for change in Indonesia, I will try to share some of my observations here, before the launch of our documentary later this spring. Having grown up in Sweden, I was raised under the impression that certain privileges were certainties. Like legal abortions. Low maternal mortality rates. Free contraception. Paid paternity leave. The right to love regardless of gender. In Indonesia, none of these “certainties” exist. In fact, abortion is illegal. As is homosexuality. Parental leave is exclusive for mothers and …

How Music and Theatre are Educating Young People in Uganda

Last Wednesday (March 8) marked International Women’s Day. The energy and effort within the women’s rights movement has clearly not slowed down from 2016. Events like the Women’s March on Washington (and the ripple effect that that has caused worldwide) as well as the consequent A Day Without a Woman campaign have showcased the creativity and inspiration that emerges when women come together to express their views on what they believe to be right and just. Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) has been working to set the stage in Uganda for spreading messages on sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) through creative means – music, dance, and drama. The initiative proves that the performing arts are an effective medium of ‘edutainment’ – challenging gender norms and creating spaces to discuss sensitive topics. As a community-centered organization, it made sense for GUIU to partner with Plan International Uganda for a youth-focused program called Ni-Yetu (translating to It Is Ours in Swahili) – operating in five districts of Uganda. In Kampala, Ni-Yetu has introduced two activities to spread messages on SRHR …

Shattering the Norm and Creating a New Future for Adolescent Girls

Written by Marcela Lopez-Macedonio, President & CEO of The Resource Foundation “As a girl, all I knew was housekeeping. I was the only girl at home and I had to wash all my brothers’ clothes. In school, I wasn’t allowed to participate in all the activities because I was a girl,” explains Belkis, a 39-year-old mother in Corbano Sur, Dominican Republic. Belkis shared her story during a parents’ meeting held as part of the Girls’ Education and Empowerment Regional Program, an initiative co-created by The Resource Foundation (TRF) and Johnson & Johnson in 2016.  Her story is not unlike those of many other women across Latin America. The choice to go to school, to start a family, to work – these were not decisions Belkis made for herself, but rather the products of generations of customs, traditions, and circumstances surrounding the roles and rights of women and girls. While significant strides have been made in Latin America, the challenges that Belkis faced as a girl and adolescent persist. Forced marriage, early pregnancy, and violence are …

Tragedy to Triumph: How sewing lessons are changing the lives of women with fistula

Written by Samantha Bossalini, Development and Communications Associate  The city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is anything but quiet. An increasingly modern metropolis overlooking the Indian Ocean, Dar is home to 4.4 million people, and is one of the fastest growing cities on the African continent. It’s a cacophony of noises, sounds, colors, and smells; ironic for a city whose name means “Place of Peace.” On one of Dar’s residential streets, however, there is a peaceful haven. Behind a stone wall sits the Mabinti Centre. The simple house hums with the sound of sewing machines.  The women working at the machines range in age from 16 to 30-years-old. They greet visitors with smiles and a warm welcome: “Karibu!” Bright kanga fabric and canvas slips beneath their whirring needles as an instructor crouches down to talk them through a difficult stitch, or to share encouragement. In the garden, ladies gather under a thatched gazebo to practice screen-printing on bolts of fabric. Some are learning to tie-dye, some to stitch tiny dolls made of beads and yarn. …

Raising Awareness of Menstruation and Sustainability in India

During a visit to Auroville, India a couple of days ago I was happy to have the opportunity to chat briefly with Eco Femme co-founder Kathy Walkling in between customers at their busy stall at the market. I had already heard about Eco Femme before I came to India and I was exited to meet the people behind it in real life. I wanted to get to know more about their important work on raising awareness of menstrual hygiene and sustainability among rural women in the state of Tamil Nadu. Eco Femme was founded in 2010 and in collaboration with the Auroville Village Action Group – an NGO working for womens’ empowerment in rural Tamil Nadu – they started to design and produce eco-friendly, washable cloth pads for sale worldwide. The cloth pads are stitched by women in self-help groups who have been trained in advanced tailoring. The women run their own collective tailoring unit and Eco Femme, whose monthly production order alone provides a full time livelihood to 7 women, is just one of their customers. The cloth pads …

What is the “Global Gag Rule” and what does it mean for Women and Girls?

Two days after the Women’s March, the new president of the Unites States signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, popularly known as the “Global Gag Rule”. The moment was captured in an emblematic photo: Donald Trump – surrounded by men – signing an order that so significantly affects the lives of women around the world, in what many described on social media as a picture of patriarchy. If you’re wondering what patriarchy looks like: A group of white men watch as Trump reinstates the #GlobalGagRule pic.twitter.com/ZV1OX41ziF — Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 23, 2017 This group just made it more difficult for women to get access to health care worldwide. You tell me what’s wrong with this picture. pic.twitter.com/8UQFWg8qO3 — Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 23, 2017 But what exactly is this controversial policy, and what are its implications for women, girls and beyond around the world? 1) The policy’s origins This policy is a U.S. government foreign policy. It was not originally created by Trump, simply reinstated by him. It was created by the …

Postpartum Depression and the Danger of ‘Bad Mom’ Stigma

“I felt so trapped, like I had a made a huge mistake in having my child.” It’s heart-wrenching to imagine any mother having to say these words about her own child merely days after giving birth. But while interviewing Serena*, a young, resilient, postpartum depression (PPD) survivor last year, I was taken by surprise by this phrase. Serena’s story about her struggles as a mother suffering from PPD were poignant. From difficulties getting out bed and taking care of herself, to a severe emotional disconnection from her own child and family, Serena suffered for weeks after giving birth to her first child. She felt unsupported and, after hearing accounts of mothers who were enjoying motherhood, she soon labeled herself a “bad mom” which caused her depression to deepen further. It was not until she found a support group with other women going through similar struggles that she regained her strength and spirits. In the peer group, she found solace in knowing she wasn’t alone and that she was not indeed, a bad mother. The women who …

UN Experts Call for Action on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

Breastfeeding is recognized as a human rights issue for both mothers and babies, and those who wish to breastfeed their children have the right to unbiased and accurate information to be able to make informed choices. There are numerous barriers facing women worldwide in regards of optimal breastfeeding. Inappropriate and varying knowledge and skills among healthcare workers, non-existent maternity leave and non-supportive cultural practices are only a few that affect and hinder women who wish to breastfeed. On November 22nd, a joint statement by a group of UN experts was released to urge action on one major obstacle: the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, also known as formula. Together, they call upon Member States to implement legal measures to protect babies and mothers from misleading, and often aggressive marketing. Let’s have a look at some facts: Global sales of breast-milk substitutes total US$ 44.8 billion In 2019, the number is expected to rise to US$ 70.6 billion Of 194 countries analyzed, 135 have some form of legal measure in place related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (also …

Knowledge and Perception about Family Planning by Women in Uganda

Blog post by Sylvester Nnyombi, Content Guru, Reach A Hand, Uganda Phoebe Nabaweesa* was 22 years when she decided to try a family planning option mid last year. She zeroed in on the injection primarily because she had observed its impact on her best friend for quite some time. Most of which was positive- at least as far as she was concerned. Phoebe’s friend had a good appetite, gained weight and was having sex without getting pregnant. Phoebe went to a clinic in Konge, one of the suburbs of Kampala, with a preset mind to receive the injection. Parting with 4,000UGX (Approx. $1) she received it, and that’s when all hell broke loose. “I had a constant flow of blood from the time I got the injection. It was like having my period every day for three months!” the 23-year old factory worker in Konge narrates. Having seen the blood flow for a month, she returned to the health facility, this time seeking medical attention. The attendants tactfully told her that the body needed time to get …