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.

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 …

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 …

International Day for Maternal Health and Rights: A Call for Action

Post written by Serra Sippel and Bergen Cooper. The International Day for Maternal Health and Rights was launched in 2014 by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) with other global sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations with support growing every year since. On behalf of the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights Steering Committee (including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Ibis Reproductive Health, Maternal Health Task Force, Pathfinder International, and The White Ribbon Alliance) we are calling on the United Nations to support universal, comprehensive, respectful, and rights-based maternal health by officially recognizing April 11th as International Day for Maternal Health and Rights. Maternal rights violations continue to persist and the United Nations’ recognition of this day would bring much-needed attention and funding to address health and rights challenges so many women face. Approximately 303,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth each year, and most of these deaths are preventable. Over the past decade the evidence for how women too often experience disrespect and abuse during childbirth has grown. …

Menstruation is a Trade Union Issue

This post was originally published in Swedish by The Union of Academics (Akademikerförbundet SSR).  The shame and ignorance surrounding menstruation are obstacles that prevent women around the world from getting an education and working. Swedish trade unions agree: Periods are a union matter. Periods are very much an issue for trade unions – and not a minor one either. On that, the Swedish trade unions are in complete agreement. In an opinion piece published by Swedish newspaper Dagens Arena on Tuesday, six unions, including The Union of Academics (Akademikerförbundet SSR), clarify that menstruation is a vital question of both women’s health and women’s rights on the labour market. Some 800 million people around the world are menstruating on any given day. Despite that, periods are often tainted with guilt, shame and taboos. In Dagens Arena the unions state that: “In many places, women who are menstruating are seen as unclean and are denied the right to work during the days they are bleeding. Periods are also fundamentally a question of health. Around 88 percent of …

Removing Barriers to the Fulfilment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

During this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I had the privilege of attending an event on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) promoted by EngenderHealth. The 2017 theme for the CSW was “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. It may seem as though the topic of sexual and reproductive health and rights does not fit into this theme, but in fact there is a strong link between economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights. For women to truly be able to enjoy economic empowerment and equality with men in the workforce and elsewhere, they need to be given the information they need to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices. Unplanned pregnancies during adolescence, contracting an STI, HIV/AIDS, and having to deal with the complications of childbirth are all examples of situations that put women at a disadvantage to men economically and in the workforce. With the proper knowledge and access to services, women, starting at a young age, can be empowered to take charge of their bodies …

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 …