All posts tagged: sexual health

Girls Shouldn’t Feel Ashamed at That Time of the Month – Period!

My name is Barbara Namuddu, a peer educator with Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU) and I would like to tell you a story. A story that am not afraid to talk about because I am a girl and am proud to say that being a girl is not a punishment. I have been volunteering with RAHU for nine months now under the Peer Educators Academy program where I have had an opportunity to interact with my peers in schools. My interaction is mainly premised on listening to their issues so that I, as a peer educator armed with the right information, can help them overcome their challenges. It’s not a surprise that as a girl, fellow girls always feel open to share problems that they go through with me since they know that I, have also gone through the same. I am sure any girl reading this is nodding her head in agreement. From the peer learning sessions I conduct, I always find out so many terrible tales happening to young girls in school (but …

Let’s Talk About Sex – The Importance of Sexual Education

When I was in the seventh grade we started having classes about sex. Everyone thought this was an awkward thing to talk about and no one really understood why we had to do it. Everyone knew that we were supposed to wait until we felt ready and use a condom, right? A few weeks ago I visited an upper secondary girls’ school in Tanzania and one of the girls came to me with a question. She was 17 years old and asked me what I thought about sex before marriage. Since sex is something that  you shouldn’t have before marriage according to the prevailing norms and and religious views in Tanzania, I felt quite uncomfortable. I didn’t want to step on her toes and say something ”wrong”. So I told her that in Sweden, having sex before marriage is quite common and nothing that is considered weird or abnormal. I was a little nervous of how she would react since it is a tricky and very personal question. This girl continued to tell me that …

Unsafe abortions: The silent epidemic

Enabling access to maternal health services for women and girls including access to safe abortion brings to light sensitive issues in cultures around the world and presents a diverse discussion on women’s health. The World Health Organization describes unsafe abortion as a silent epidemic  that requires an urgent public health and human rights imperative. The silent epidemic threatens the life of women and girls across the world and in Kenya as well. Despite its frequently morbid effects and high contribution to maternal mortality, unsafe abortion remains one of the most neglected global public health challenges. As a public health and women’s health rights issue, unsafe abortion is advanced by misconceptions about the procedure and misinformation about its legality, amongst other socio-cultural factors that in many countries hinder women’s and girls’ access to safe and legal abortion services. According to the African Population Health and Research Centre, at least 2,600 women die from unsafe abortion in Kenya every year; 16 % of abortions in Kenya involve women below 20 years of age, while women between the ages …

The Diary of an Indian sex-educator

Her: “Is it possible for you to talk on menstruation and child sexual abuse to young girls?” Me: “Sure! What age are they?” Her: “Studying in Class 5 and 6.” Me: “Great! That shouldn’t be a problem.” Her: “There is one thing though, you can’t talk about sex.” Awkward silence followed. I had no choice but to agree. This was my first encounter with sex-ed. I had been working with a feminist organisation in Hyderabad for a year already. I was 24 years old. I trained on legal rights, human rights and legislations but had not started training on sex, sexuality or reproductive health, for that matter. Those were reserved for experienced trainers. The above conversation was merely an introduction to the long list of conditions sex educators must work with. To prepare for this class in a private school in a posh part of the city, I spent two weeks reading. I read about the human body. I studied how the parts looked. I read books for kids, for adults, for trainers, for teachers …

ICFP 2016: Family planning as a human right

Featured image: UN Photo/Kibae Park On the shuttle bus from the airport I sat between a young woman from India and a young woman from Zimbabwe. Having traveled from three different corners of world, we all arrived ready to share our family planning knowledge and experiences while learning from others at the Fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). The United Nations recognizes family planning as a human right and this week activists, advocates, humanitarians, health practitioners, private sector representatives and scholars from across the globe are together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss how this human right can go from being a lofty goal to a global norm. At the heart of family planning is a woman’s right to choose whether or not  and with whom she will have children, as well as her right to control the timing, spacing and number of children she chooses to have. At this conference, we are reflecting on the challenges and opportunities in providing girls and women with access to this human right. As part of looking at and …

Revealing the Truth: Busting Abortion Myths

Stigma related to unwanted pregnancies and abortion places millions of women and girls at risk all over the world. Not only does stigma negatively impact women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights but it also personally interferes and restricts a woman, her right to freely access safe abortion health services, with fear of being scrutinized by community members in public.  In some situations stigmatization can be almost as dangerous and detrimental to women’s well-being and health as illegal abortion. Access to abortion is an integral part of social and reproductive justice and women have to be constantly reminded about their right to access safe abortion services at health care facilities that are made available to them. Stigma and discrimination which is fed by lack of accurate and adequate information, is often what leads to women and girls who opt for the termination of their pregnancies to undergo illegal and unsafe “back street” abortions, with the hope of attaining confidentiality – which leads to a number of health complications such as: Risk of contracting HIV and …

Let’s Talk About Inter-Generational Dialogues and SRHR

The time has arrived to apply an age-integrated approach in policies and programs on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). A people centered approach to SRHR is fundamental for promoting development, fighting poverty and, ultimately, for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that set a new course of global development until 2030. When combined with gender transformative approaches, i.e. taking note of equality and mutual responsibilities among the two sexes, opportunities for increased individual and social well-being are within reach. Millennials (people born from 1980s to early 2000s) are driving an unprecedented change in society. They will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Historically seen they are the largest youth population and the most educated generation ever in history. They are in the best position to reap the benefits of technology, globalisation and new communication. The United Nations, as reflected in the SDGs, explicitly prioritize youth, and rightly so. No longer are young people “sitting on the side”. Young people are actively taking action and are increasingly being included in the decision-making process …

What is SRHR? Why Should You Care?

At a UNGA meeting on sexual reproductive health and rights, one of the panelists looked around the room and noted that all the attendees knew each other. And as someone interested in the field, but something of a newcomer, I was occasionally lost in the technical level of the questions on chain of distribution issues, references to previous reports and intimidated by the scale of the efforts, and barriers to me, as an individual citizen, entering the discussion. This is probably how most people feel the minute they hear ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.’ At the end of the conference, encouraging as it was, one panelist recognized the nature of the evening’s event. “We’re talking to ourselves,” she said, urging the room to to pull others into the conversation. “We need to be talking to the people not in this room.” She was right. It’s difficult to get people truly invested in the idea of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Many people in the developed world take it for granted – it’s hammered …

Hey Ladies, Let’s Talk About Our Bodies

Have you ever read those incredibly real and personal coming of age stories? Flip through any Glamour, Teen Vogue or scan through your Facebook feed and you will find them. Many of these stories are filled with embarrassing tales and dramatic moments. Stories such as the girl who walks into the boy’s toilet on the first day of middle school. The teenager who leans in for her first kiss and then misses completely. We can’t forget about the girl who really should not have worn white pants to school. Yes, this is when over-sized sweatshirts and best friends come in handy. Awkward? Read on ladies. This is one of those stories. We have to admit we love reading them. These stories remind us of our teenage years. We laugh because the awkwardness is funny but mostly we laugh because we can relate. All I have to say is: Solidarity Sisters. Am I right? If you are a teenager, keep reading because it definitely gets better. Even now, I think about my teenage self (I just turned 31 a few weeks …

Parents: We need to talk

When your teenage adolescent son or daughter unconfidently signs: “Mom, Dad…We need to talk”, the very first feeling enticed – is that of worry and the thought of wonder. Indeed those words are enough to make any parent cringe with unrestrained energy of a million creative thoughts on what lies in the mind of their child – usually the feeling of being about to be asked a pressing question or confronted with the revelation of a recent truth, creeps in. In fact, these are words many young people wish they could say to either or both parents when faced with a dilemma or simply curiosity and look to their elders and/or parents for guidance. Many adolescents are sceptical about asking their parents questions regarding their sexuality and reproductive health. In the absence of guidance from their parents, most often, adolescents and youth lead to peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and social media platforms for answers, with the hope of finding satisfactory knowledge and comfort in what they otherwise would have gained from their parents. The diversified opinions …