In Conversation with Beverly Nkirote Mutwiri

Beverly Nkirote Mutwiri is a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate from Kenya. She speaks to Girls’ Globe about the challenges she has encountered as a young woman in a patriarchal society.

“In many SRHR spaces we have male dominancy, and at times it can be very intimidating, especially to a young woman.”

This video was made possible through a generous grant from SayItForward.org in support of women’s advocacy messages.

If you liked this post, we think you’ll love our interviews with KingaWinfredScarlett, Natasha and Tasneem, too!

In Conversation With Kinga Wisniewska

Kinga Wisniewska is a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate from Poland. In this conversation with Girls’ Globe, Kinga talks about the misconceptions surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights in her home country, and the challenges she faces as an advocate in today’s political climate. 

“The environment is getting more and more conservative in Poland, so I’m struggling with sending my message without being attacked.”

We couldn’t agree more with Kinga when she says that storytelling has the power to bring out the best part of people – their empathy. 

“When you become empathetic you connect, you rethink, maybe you change your opinion.”

This video was made possible through a generous grant from SayItForward.org in support of women’s advocacy messages.

Join us LIVE at ICFP2018!

We’re excited to announce that Girls’ Globe will be part of the 2018 International Conference on Family Planning in Rwanda next week.

From Monday 12 – Thursday 15 November, we’ll join thousands of advocates, young people, political leaders, scientists, policymakers and researchers from within the global family planning community. And we want you to come with us!

If you are interested sexual and reproductive health and rights you can attend the conference from wherever you are in the world through the ICFP Hub, and by joining the Virtual Conference on Facebook.

You’re invited to join Girls’ Globe’s LIVE events and reporting!

There are loads of ways to engage with Girls’ Globe online during the conference and you can catch everything on our  ICFP2018 LIVE page. Here’s what you don’t want to miss next week – make sure to RSVP to each event and follow us @girlsglobe on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.

Monday 12 November 

Welcome to #ICFP2018: The Girls’ Globe team on the ground in Kigali, Rwanda welcome you to the International Conference on Family Planning 2018. While we say hi to people arriving for the opening ceremony, we will start a conversation with you about expectations for this year’s conference. We will talk to you about the ways you can engage online during conference – and what you don’t want to miss this week! 

Tuesday 13 November

Family Planning Commitments for Young People: In this episode, we will highlight young people’s priorities in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and we will shine the spotlight on the family planning commitments being made for young people around the world. You will have the opportunity to interact and to ask your question and share your priorities in a live Q&A.

Wednesday 14 November 

Stories at the Heart of SRHR (in partnership with sayitforward.org): In this episode, we will highlight a more personal side of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and we’ll shine a spotlight on women’s stories of overcoming challenging norms, stigma and taboos in their work with family planning. You will have the opportunity to join this conversation LIVE by sharing your own story and connecting in solidarity as others around the world share theirs. 

Thursday 15 November 

A Global Movement of Action: In this episode, we will highlight the actions that people are taking around the world to advance family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights. We will shine a spotlight on YOU and some of our partner organizations in the studio and discuss the actions they are taking in the next year, the needs that they have to advance their work, and the change that they want to see in 2020. You can join the conversation LIVE by adding your perspectives and inspiration in a livestreamed Q&A.

Providing family planning services to urban migrant workers in Bangladesh garment factories: In this segment, Girls’ Globe will interview Dr. Jewel Alam Azad of CARE to discuss access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services for urban garment workers in Bangladesh. You’ll be able to join the conversation by asking your own questions to Dr. Jewel Alam Azad.

Join Girls’ Globe’s #ICFP2018 conversations by sharing your voice, your perspective and your story with us throughout the week. We’ll see you there! 

Happy World Contraception Day!

Do you know about World Contraception Day? It was launched in 2007 with the mission of improving contraception awareness and empowering youth with the ability to arrive at informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.

World Contraception Day (WCD) celebrates this concept every September 26th with the vision that no woman should have an unwanted pregnancy, making way for less risky abortions, fewer newborn and maternal deaths and greater prosperity and equality for all women everywhere. So, what are we celebrating exactly?

What Exactly Is World Contraception Day?

More than 70 countries typically participate in World Contraception Day. The World Health Organization describes the importance of WCD in a way that encompasses the promotion of family planning and female autonomy, supporting free choice of women worldwide, which in turn strengthens world health goals.

Ensuring that women can access their preferred contraceptive methods and make empowered decisions about their sexual health secures their autonomy and well-being. In turn, this movement strengthens the development and health of communities.

Women have used various contraceptive methods for centuries with varying to limited success, but modern medicine now allows women to choose if, when and how many kids they want to have — which can break the cycle of impoverishment and build a more sustainable path for the future of families and communities around the world.

The world population continues to grow, and limited access to contraception by law and other restrictions threaten women and the livelihood of and quality of life for families across the world.

Even in a wealthy country like the United States, women choose to have fewer kids for valid reasons: 64 percent cite rising childcare expenses, 54 percent want more time with their kids, 49 percent worry about the economy and 44 percent can’t afford kids. Other reasons include anxiety about domestic politics, work-life balance, career ambitions, rising population levels and parental aptitude.

Why I’m Celebrating World Contraception Day

Having access to a variety of family planning methods enables couples and families to do what’s best for themselves. As families plan if, when and how many children they will have, economic, social and health benefits increase for all.

I don’t personally want to have children, and while I don’t know if that will change, I certainly want to live in a world where I never have to face the scary possibility of giving birth to a human child who I am not prepared to take care of properly.

And in an American political climate where someone like Brett Kavanaugh is even being considered a viable candidate for judgeship, I believe that we need to be talking about contraceptives and safe, consensual sexual practices more than ever before.

It’s important for other countries as well. According to the USAID, more than 225 million women want to avoid or delay pregnancy in developing countries, but they don’t currently use family planning. WCD stresses the importance of increasing access to contraceptive services and information for everyone.

Every individual has a right to quality and affordable family planning information and contraceptives. Many organizations sponsor the delivery of condoms and contraceptives to developing countries. Knowledge about family planning gets shared not only at health clinics, but at salons, too! Wherever women go, we should be making sure that information is readily available to them.

Visit World Contraception Day online at your-life.com, which provides answers to common questions people have about contraceptives, reproduction and women’s health. Visitors can also research information about pregnancy and the “growing pains” of puberty.

You can celebrate World Contraception Day by sharing information on it, practicing safe and consensual sexual habits and honoring your sexual health by giving your body the TLC it deserves!

The Deliberately Silenced and Preferably Unheard

“There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” – Arundhati Roy

It is popular in certain humanitarian circles to talk about the importance of “being a voice for the voiceless”. Many have pushed back against this rhetoric in recent years, noting that very few humans are truly voiceless. Instead, as Arundhati Roy suggests in the above quote, some voices are simply listened to more than others. And when it comes to discussions around sexual and reproductive health, the “preferably unheard” are too often young people.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of traveling to Ethiopia to meet some vibrant young women who participated in CARE’s TESFA program, which aims to improve sexual and reproductive health and economic outcomes for ever-married adolescent girls ages 10-19 through facilitated group discussions and learning.

Early marriage is common in rural areas of Ethiopia, and once a girl is married she is typically expected to end any pursuit of educational and/or economic advancement to focus on her husband and household, and ultimately to bear and raise children. The husband is the head of the household, providing security and financial support, and representing the couple/family in the community. By taking on these predetermined roles based on societal expectations, the girl’s voice may be overpowered by that of her husband – but she still has one.

I met twenty-year-old Mesobua Kassaw in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, a hilly and beautiful area in the northern part of the country made up mostly of farmland, and dotted with trees and small houses built of wood and mud with corrugated metal roofs. Mesobua’s parents arranged for her to be married to a priest at age 15, and shortly thereafter she gave birth to her daughter.

Mesobua © 2018 April Houston/CARE

The difficulties started right away.

“My husband didn’t have any work,” she told me. “He would go drinking with the other priests and would come home and say mean things to me.”

Mesobua decided on her own to join TESFA and began attending regular meetings with a small group of girls around her age who had also been married. They formed their own Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) and learned about the benefits of saving money and understanding loans, interest, and money management. They also talked about family planning, prenatal care, and other topics related to sexual and reproductive health – including early marriage. Her girls’ group enjoyed the opportunity to socialize, learn, and participate in these important conversations happening in her community. Mesobua’s group has continued to meet even after the official end of the TESFA project, and she now leads some of the discussions.

Now divorced, Mesobua is about the farthest thing from “voiceless” I can imagine. She farms her own land, sells oil at local markets, and raises her daughter on her own. She clearly and confidently expresses her thoughts, ideas, and opinions, even to me, a foreigner she had only just met.

On educating others: “I tell my parents what I have learned about savings, fuel-saving stoves, latrines and the like and help them to act on it.”

On early marriage: “I think the effort to stop early marriage should continue… I don’t want other young or older girls to go through that. I want them to marry on their own time after achieving a good status in life.”

On her own personal growth: “I have changed and realized that I shouldn’t ask my family for money, that I should value myself, love others, and socialize. I should be patient and take the high road. I have learned to love… Thanks to CARE I’m more confident now. In the past I didn’t even want to be seen by other people, let alone talk to them. Nowadays I am not scared of anyone. I speak up. I say what is on my mind.”

Mesobua doesn’t need anyone to be her voice. It seems to me that the best thing we can do to help her (and other young people around the world) is to be quiet and listen. Or better yet, pass her a microphone.

28 Myths: the Menstrual Cycle, the Pill & Fertility Awareness

I’m Chloe, a Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner & Fertility Awareness Educator. My mission is to break the taboo around the menstrual cycle, guide people on their journey to body literacy, and teach comprehensive and accurate fertility awareness to support menstruators in their sexual and reproductive decision-making.

Since ditching the pill, charting my own cycle, and teaching fertility awareness all over the world, I’ve come across a few myths I’d like to set straight!

Every day throughout February, I’ll be debunking myths about the menstrual cycle, the birth control pill, and fertility awareness in my first-ever video series. 

So let’s get started! Here’s Myth 1: The Menstrual Cycle Should be 28 Days Long…

And Myth 2: A Woman Can Get Pregnant at Any Time During Her Cycle…

Follow along so you don’t miss a myth! Like my Facebook Page, Chloe Skerlak, Fertility Awareness Educator, and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. See you tomorrow for Myth 3!