Announcing the Winner of the People’s Choice Award!

Girls’ Globe is delighted to announce the winner of the very first People’s Choice Award in K4Health‘s annual Photoshare competition!

Congratulations go to Segawa Patrick and his team at Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) for receiving the highest number of public votes in the category of Sexual and Reproductive Health. Today, Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017, is the perfect day to share their brilliant winning photograph.

PHAU shared the inspiration behind the photo:

“Our source of inspiration comes from the fact that many adolescent girls miss school and others drop out of school due to lack of sanitary commodities. It’s for this reason that we launched a campaign called “Ensonga” (meaning “the issue”) which aims to improve menstrual hygiene management within schools in Uganda.”

And we asked voters to tell us why they chose this image as the winner:

“Stigma around menstrual hygiene wreaks havoc on girls’ education opportunities around the world in a way that most people in higher-income countries are not aware of. I think this photograph highlights serious menstrual hygiene issues in a fun and lighthearted way (and I love the faces, colors, and composition, as well).”

“Menstruation keeps many young women from attending school each month for several reasons including lack of proper materials for personal care as well as insufficient amenities at schools. Women should not have to sacrifice education because of menstruation, so I like that this image brings awareness to the issue!”

“I think menstrual stigma is a crucial issue that needs more discussion and awareness. It is a shame that girls have to miss school and be embarrassed for going through menstruation, which is a normal part of being a female.”

“It is an original picture. It captures an unexpected moment of an important and seldom talked about issue, while at the same time transmitting a lot of joy.”

To learn more about Public Health Ambassadors and their Ensonga campaign, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.

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 of the White Ribbon Alliance do, or like midwives do in their daily work.

In this first part you will follow us to a private maternity clinic in Helsingborg, Sweden, called Mammakulan. The midwives at Mammakulan create an inspiring team of women that want to make a change in their societies. They are passionate about their work, and want to share their knowledge with the world. Rather than following us through our experiences with this project, we will let you meet all of the inspiring individuals we have met shooting the series through interviews. We hope that you will find these observations and conversations just as inspiring as we did. We are beyond happy to share with you the first part of Midwives of the World!

Feel free to like, comment and share! The next part will be focusing on White Ribbon Alliance Indonesia, and will be published in the near future. In the meantime, let’s get together for moms, and let’s talk equality!

Tilde and Anna – Let’s Talk Equality

Celebrating Midwives with Voices from Around the World

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

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“There are so many ways that midwives partner with mothers, as they seek to provide the best possible health for their newborns and indeed their entire families. One example is the important role that midwives play in helping a new mother to breastfeed. It takes a lot of practice and many helping hands along the way.” – Janet Lewis, ICM Technical Midwife Advisor

“Midwives are the key to making women feel safe and bold though their pregnancy and while giving birth. By supporting women through their first steps as mothers and helping them bond with their newborn, women can enter motherhood empowered and with more confidence.” – Caroline, Mother, Sweden

“Midwives matter to me because, they have the knowledge to bring babies to life with love and care like no doctors.” – Alejandra, Mexico

“Midwives matter to me because every mum counts.” – Maria Sidéras, Midwife, Sweden

“Midwives matter to me because they are advocates for women on a personal level but also on a wider structural level. The role of midwife is central to a holistic model of health, which in an increasingly medicalised context, is invaluable. So often midwives challenge the dominant medical approach because it can be actively hostile to women and may not always work with the women’s innate physiological ability to give birth, but intervenes unnecessarily leading to increased risks for mother and baby. In my opinion midwifery is feminist work, placing women in the centre of their own care, showing them respect, facilitating their autonomy, offering reassurance and supporting them to make informed decisions.” – Aster, Mother and Student Midwife, UK

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“I was inspired to train as a midwife by those who cared for me during my own pregnancy and birth. My community midwife with all her support and reassurance helped me feel confident in the decisions that I made throughout my antenatal and postnatal care even when they went against the status quo. I trusted her and felt that she truly listened to me; I only wish she had been my midwife at the birth of my son as well. I think continuity of care is so valuable.

Midwives are partners with women and their families when they truly listen, when they provide non judgemental support and provide evidence based information without personal bias. Partnership is not about telling women what to do or funneling them through a system without true regard for their personal circumstances and wishes. I think the work of midwives takes a huge amount of energy and they need more support and recognition.” – Aster, Mother and Student Midwife, UK

“As a father and husband, I request everyone to respect midwives because they are our integral part not only for our generation but also for the future generation” – Shantanu Garg, ICM Project Lead

“Midwives have more adequate knowledge about birth and babies than doctors, they understand the body better, in a more natural way.” – Sofia, Mother, Åland Islands, Finland

“I was pregnant with my firstborn in the U.S., and now I am expecting my second in Finland – countries with very different maternal and newborn healthcare systems. I have also lived in many countries, like India and Tanzania. Having access to quality midwifery and maternal health care services is absolutely crucial for women to be able to experience safe, healthy pregnancies and births. In many countries, women lack access to proper maternal health care services altogether – and in countries like the U.S., access is uneven because the cost of healthcare is so high and pregnancy and birth have been heavily medicalized and largely taken away from the hands of midwives. I believe midwives play a huge role in normalizing pregnancy and birth as natural conditions, not medical conditions or illnesses – and every single woman around the world should be able to experience pregnancy and birth with a qualified, trained midwife by her side.” – Emma, Mother, Finland/USA.

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“Midwives have been a most important source in saving women’s and children’s lives all over the world – not only in modern times but also in history. I hope that all of you feel the importance of what you’re achieving, no matter where in the world you are working.” – Ingela Wiklund, Board Member ICM

Learn more about the International Day of the Midwife through the International Confederation of Midwives

Abortion Rights in Poland: From Legalization in 1959 to Czarny Protest in 2016

In 1989, Polish women stood at a crossroads. With the fall of the Soviet Union, women were re-introduced to the concepts of Western second-wave feminism. Like in other post-soviet states, the effects of communism resulted in the fierce emancipation of women in both family and work. Now, looking at the current debate in Poland around abortion and women’s autonomy over their bodies, one cannot help but ask, why now? Why is it that almost thirty years after the fall of the Communist Government in Poland, is women’s right to abortion being questioned?

For those answers one must take a good hard look at Poland’s history, which more often than not is caught between Western ideals, the Catholic Church, and the country’s history of communism. Upoland2nder the Communist state, both women and men were expected to work which resulted in a massive increase of women entering both industrial and agricultural fields. A popular slogan even arise during this time, “Kobiety na Traktory”(“Women to the Tractor”). In 1956, a good twenty years before the United States and France, abortion was legalized. Contraception was legal and subsidized by the state, and sexual education was gradually introduced into the schools. When the fall of the Soviet Union came in 1989, women that may have looked into the ideals of western second-wave feminism were met with fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, to which, many argue, Poland partially owes its independence to. Western feminism was often placed beside communist reproductive policy.

Currently in Poland, abortion is banned except if using contraceptives places the woman’s life or health in danger, when pregnancy is the result of a criminal act, such as rape or incest, or if the fetus is seriously malformed. But unlike in other nations, polish women are not penalized for termination of pregnancy. This shift from full access to abortion under communist rule took place in 1993. Since 1998, conceptions and sexual education have also been suppressed. Abortion and sexual education seemed to be untouchable topics in Poland. This past Monday, the 10th of September 2016, thousands of Polish women and men took to the streets to protest a bill currently being debated at the Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s Parliament. The bill would ban abortion under all circumstances and would include serving five year penalties to any women or doctor caught getting or administrating an abortion. Many critics of the bill also cite that this would deter doctors from doing prenatal testing in fear of inducing a miscarriage.

The “Czarny Protest” (Black Protest) that took place on Monday urged women not to work, attend school, or preform domestic chores to showcase that the rights of women are essential to the progress of the Polish nation. Women and men walked through the streets of over sixty Polish cities, dressed in all black, in order to mourn their reproductive rights. Over 25,000 people marched through Castle Square in Warsaw this past Monday. Teachers taught their classes in black attire to show their solidarity with the movement. Similar protests have been held across Europe and the world, from London to Kiev and Helsinki to New York. The main fear the plagues the Polish government is retribution from the predominantly Catholic Community of Poland. In addition the current government of Poland seems to be moving away from more western ideals. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s first decision in office was to remove the European Union flag from the press conferences at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister and to replace the clock in the Council of Ministers with a cross. President Andrzej Duda shares the same skepticism of the European Union as well as fierce belief in Catholicism this counterpart Prime Minster Szydlo.

Currently in Poland several hundred legal abortions are conducted each year. Activists claim that tens of thousands are done illegally throughout the nation, and that many women have to cross the border to Germany or Slovakia to get an abortion. Any further ban on abortion rights in Poland will likely result in an influx of Polish women either undergoing dangerous procedures to get an abortion, or crossing the border to neighboring countries for abortions. All of this would also take place under the threat of a five year imprisonment.

Looking at the debate in Poland today, and seeing the ripple effect it is causing all over the world, one thing seems for sure: women around the world are tired of having others tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies, and standing on the sidelines when politicians try to strip away their basic reproductive rights. Women in Poland, and around the world, are sending a clear message: These are our bodies, and it is our right to decide what happens to them.

Featured image: Black March in support of abortion rights, Łódź October 2nd 2016 – Zorro 1121/Wikimedia Commons