All posts tagged: women’s health

How Martial Arts Helped Me Get Back on My Feet

Content note: this post contains depictions of physical assault  After being attacked on my way home, I decided to start training in martial arts. I wanted to become stronger both physically and mentally, and eventually, I found my way to the Korean martial art of taekwondo. Today, the mental tools taekwondo has given me help me out in all areas of life. In my twenties, I was attacked on my way home after a late shift at work. A man followed me and forced his way into the building where I lived. Luckily, he didn’t have a weapon, and I managed to get out of his grip and scream for help. Even though he ran off when he heard people approaching, I was deeply shaken. What if there wouldn’t have been anyone around? I felt so helpless. The man who had attacked me wasn’t big – around my height. But when he grabbed me, it was like one of those nightmares where your muscles stop working. I was paralyzed by the thought that he might …

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 …

Keeping Girls In Sport When Everything Changes

Written by Kristina Pinto. The ubiquitous #LikeaGirl phenomenon took on new meaning with the release of a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which reported that English girls start to leave sports around puberty and the onset of breast development. It seems that the vast popularity of Run Like a Girl branding may be onto something in the collective consciousness of girlhood as the prospect of running like a woman–in a woman’s body–seems to deter many girls from sport. The New York Times coverage of the study makes the case that this decrease in sport participation isn’t inevitable, and other research points to ways that parents, schools, and even girls themselves can continue to find empowerment through girls’ involvement in sport. These suggestions emerge from the literature: Normalize puberty. My research on girls’ experiences of early puberty, published in the Journal of Early Adolescence and Qualitative Health Research, found that girls with families and friends who talk so openly about puberty that it becomes pedantic do not become self-conscious or intimidated by the changes in their bodies. When girls are prepared for puberty through education and …

The Power of Knowledge in the Fight against HIV/AIDS

Correct information empowers people to make the best possible choices in all aspects of life. Conversely, incorrect or poorly communicated information can cause a degree of harm that can be worse than knowing nothing in the first place. It is time to stop focusing solely on access to education, and start working on improving the quality of education. Rightly so, education is often considered the ‘first defense’ to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When people know how to prevent transmission and why preventing transmission is so important (ie. there is no cure for HIV), the majority of people will, to the best of their abilities, take action to protect themselves and their families. Knowledge gives people the power to prevent HIV transmission in the first place, thereby eliminating the need for medical interventions to mitigate the effects of the virus. The ‘knowledge is power’ principle has created a focus on simply getting children and youth enrolled in school as a key strategy to combat the spread of HIV. But is getting children and youth enrolled in school …

Liberty and Justice for All

Post written by: Alicia Weigel I believe all people should feel empowered to make their own decisions. I believe all people should have access to health and safety as basic human rights. I believe all women have a right to life. I believe all women must be treated as full members of society. Most feminists would agree with the above statements. Replace “women” with a more specific subgroup, however, and the statements become problematic. I believe all sex workers should feel empowered to make their own decisions. I believe all sex workers should have access to health and safety as basic human rights. I believe all sex workers have a right to life. I believe all sex workers must be treated as full members of society. Although not all sex workers are women, this community includes some of the most marginalized women on our planet. Many face legal repercussions for their line of work in places where it is defined as criminal behavior. They all face stigma in their daily lives, preventing them from accessing sufficient healthcare. Regardless …

Integrated Development: A Response for Women & HIV

Sub-Saharan Africa is presently the most severely affected region by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the UNAIDS GAP Report, of the total population of 36.7 million living with HIV or AIDS globally, 19 million (seven out of every ten people) live in Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women accounting for one in four new HIV infections in the region, therefore, every day in Sub-Saharan Africa 1000 girls and young women are infected with HIV. South Africa, in particular, has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV infections in the world with an estimated 6.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2015, an increase from 5.4 million in 2014. A high proportion of young people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa are young women and adolescents aged 15-24, where 2000 new infections are reported from this vulnerable and at-risk population group every week.  HIV/AIDS also continues to be the highest leading cause of death amongst women and adolescents around the world. Failure to address the needs of women and girls living with …

Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula

Post Written By: Abbey Kocan, Executive Director  The first time I met a woman who was recovering from obstetric fistula surgery, I was faced with a reality I had been sheltered from for far too long. Four years later, while the level of awareness around this condition in the developed world has grown, there is still a lot of work to be done before this critical global health challenge is given a permanent place in the spotlight. Imagine if, while giving birth, you or your partner faced a complication requiring emergency medical care. Imagine if that care was unavailable, and you lost your baby. You grieve for the loss of the child who was so close to living. You, or your partner, suffer silently, trying to find a way to cope with the physical trauma that leaves you incontinent, unable to work and further devastated by judgment and abuse at the hands of your friends and family. Kupona Foundation’s fistula program has treated patients as young as 12, and as old as 82. Imagine living …

The Maverick Collective: Bringing Cancer Screening to Uttar Pradesh

At Women Deliver 2016, Girls’ Globe attended the launch of The Maverick Collective, an initiative by Population Services International (PSI) and the brainchild of HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Melinda Gates and Kate Roberts. Borne of frustration about a lack of follow-through on ideas for change, the collective aims to bring philanthropy to a new generation of donors, those who are actively engaged with their projects on the ground. Girls’ Globe was able to talk to some of the inaugural members of the Maverick Collective, which has projects spanning across the globe. The following is an interview with Kathryn Vizas, who tackled the issue of cervical cancer in one of the poorest and most populous regions of India.  GG: How did you hear about The Maverick Collective? KV: It was 3 and a half years ago, I was at  a women’s conference in New York which I sort of decided to attend on a whim because some of the topics seemed interesting. My husband and I had recently relocated at that point, so I hadn’t …

Witnessing the Start of Life: Why I want to be a midwife

I start my shift at 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Outside the sun is shining, spring has finally arrived. My patient of the day is a 19-year-old woman who is expecting her first child. She has had contractions for the past two days and today it’s finally time to give birth. For the next seven hours, I will be with her on her journey to give birth, a journey that consists of both joy and despair. Moments where the pain is so tough that she wants to give up, but also moments where she feels the strength and thinks “I can do this!” At the end of the shift the baby finally arrives, a long-awaited little life. The joy in the room can not be mistaken – and the magical moment comes, when the woman sees her baby for the first time. Relatives streams into the room, everyone wants to congratulate and meet the new family member. The delivery room turns into a celebration! And in the middle of all this, I stand, a midwifery …