19. May 2021 –
For adolescent girls, it can be awkward to talk about periods. For displaced young women, that awkwardness can be exacerbated by cultural stigmatization and a lack of privacy caused by cramped living conditions in camps. A recent seminar at HÁWAR.help’s BACK TO LIFE Women’s Empowerment Center gave nine girls a safe and private space to learn about their bodies and menstrual health.
During the seminar, the girls learnt about regular and irregular periods, how to spot complications and most importantly, how to take care of themselves. A lack of trust resulting from traumatic experiences is one of the main psychosocial issues these girls face. Therefore, our colleagues Hana and Ghalya were the perfect instructors for this seminar, because they’ve already established close relationships with these girls during the sewing and literacy courses at the center.
Cultural stigmas about menstruation create important psychological barriers, which make it difficult for young women to talk about their periods. Oftentimes, that prevents them from seeking help when necessary. A phenomenon that is concerning, as displaced women’s and girls’ health is at particular risk: the lack of private spaces, inadequate sanitary facilities, and insufficient supplies of menstrual products create physical barriers to managing periods well.
Adolescent girls’ education is also at stake. The anxiety and shame they feel about their period, compiled with the often-inept sanitary conditions at their school, means they are likely to stay at home during this time, missing several precious days of school each month.
Establishing spaces exclusively for women and girls, such as the BACK TO LIFE Women’s Empowerment Center, is a crucial first step in addressing the issues that they face when dealing with their periods. It provides them with an opportunity to learn and share about their specific health-related needs and risks, safely, and free of judgement.
We thank our partners: the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ and Deutsche Postcode Lotterie, for supporting BACK TO LIFE.