Results World YWCA
Evaluation of World YWCA’s Initiative “Promoting the realisation of the right to health for young women and girls”
According to you, what were the significant (important) changes that the YWCA SRHR and Mental health programme made possible in your country?
A. Increased self love/ self care
This is me in the picture. It’s about body positivity, about how to love your body.
I want to show that these programs helped girls to be brave, to speak about yourself and to express yourself. For me, the body topic – my own gender stereotyping – was painful. But this program ruins this stereotypical comprehension of our nature. I wanted to show that I gained courage during my participation in different projects. I’m proud of myself. I’m not afraid to express myself.
This woman is 92 years old and lives by herself. She is alone by choice; she is not abandoned. Her husband died ten years ago but she decided to stay and live in the village and not go to the big city to be taken care of by her children.
She is a good example that women can choose how they want to live. This picture is about mental health and strength.
At her age she is still reading books and obtaining knowledge. She is an example of self-care and through the SHRH program we mentioned this woman a lot as an example. She is a role model for the girls and women in our area.
During this program I realized the importance of caring for my own body. I learned nobody but me can make decisions about my body. The flower symbolizes my womb, and my womb is sacred. Nobody but me can make decisions about it. I want to scream: My body, my choice!
This girl is sitting outside in the fresh air, enjoying life. It’s a picture is about self-care, about freedom, about self-education and mental health. In our area, self-care is not considered important for our women and girls. This is a problem, and we try to change that. It’s also a personal story of change thanks to the project. When I was training the young women and girls, I realized that actually I was not doing what I wanted to myself. So, I started doing what I love: cooking, taking pictures and making videos of food dishes. I now have a YouTube channel where I show the national dishes I make.
B. Overcoming barriers and gender stereotypes surrounding menstruation
The picture is about menstrual health and being able to be open about this taboo topic. In the village some families, some women and girls, have problems with being open about female hygiene. But the women who participated in the project have changed, they are not ashamed now. They don’t need to hide something that is connected to their bodies, that is
connected to their body or health. The red sweater on the photograph is meant as a symbol of the menstrual period. In our village we trained almost 40-50 young girls, teachers and parents. Now many of them can speak about menstrual health openly.
Before, it was a stigma to discuss menstruation in Belarus. It was considered dirty. I don’t like that. Menstruation is about fertility, it’s natural and not dirty. IVKA helped us to accept our nature and to know about all different menstrual products. If men are not comfortable with it, it is not my problem. That’s why I wanted to put the menstrual pad in a very public place.
Just behind the menstrual pad, written on the wall, it says ‘courage’. I like that.
It’s about breaking the stigmas, it’s about body positivity. Before we weren’t able to speak out loud about these topics. Thanks to this project we speak to young people about menstrual health. We are really changing the situation; this topic is becoming more visible. In the media as well. Sometimes we even educate the media about these topics.
This picture is about what the SRHR trainings brought us. We can see the hands of two sisters, a younger one of eleven and an older one of sixteen. Girls participated in our trainings and we discussed issues of menstrual health. After the training the participants felt free to share their knowledge with their families and their sisters. Before they felt shy to do so. This picture shows how an older sister is passing information about menstrual health on
to her younger sibling.
Through the project we managed to enlighten youth about the different menstrual products that there are and that can be used. It’s is okay to have menstrual cups, it is okay to use tampons. There is a lot of stories that people have about menstrual cups, that it makes you hollow. Or ideas about tampons; that it is unhygienic because you have to insert it.
Throughout the project and me growing up, I realized we don’t have to hide our tampons or our pads. We are teaching people it is okay to use any variety of products, that they are all okay to use.
C. Male involvement
This is a photo of a friend of mine and his child. It explains the involvement of men. We have gender roles that women have to conform to. Young mothers are raising children on their own. If a man takes care of a baby, they’re being ‘bullied’; it’s not normal. This man is an example of a man who is involved in his children’s lives. This is something we advocate for when we talk about SRHR and MH: the responsibility of women ánd men towards the family. The father taking charge and not just leaving the child with the mum which is the
usual African set up. When we had sessions with young women, we would educate and ask them, where are the fathers in your lives, would you be comfortable to discuss their presence with them? They got the assurance to discuss this theme with their husbands or boyfriends or fiancées.
This man is an example of a man who is involved in his children’s lives. He does more than just providing food. Changing diapers and waking up in in the middle of the night. This is a change thanks to the discussions we have of what is a normal situation.
This is an ultrasound of a baby. It was sent to me by my brother. He had gone with his wife to all the ultrasound appointments and that blew me away. Men being present throughout the pregnancy, supporting their spouses, being concerned about their mental health and what they need: this is not something usual in Africa.
I used to have random discussions with my siblings before my brother sent me this picture. I would ask questions about whether they would be supportive towards women in topics of menstrual or mental health. I would share the SRHR knowledge I learned.
Going to the ultrasound appointment made him understand the conditions about being pregnant and this is exactly what we need to normalize.
In South Africa there is a belief that men shouldn’t partake in anything that is related to menstruation or anything associated. They say it’s dirty, it’s blood.
Through this project I was able to sit down with several males and talk about what their beliefs are concerning menstruation. And it definitely made me think we should advocate for this to change. This picture tries to break stereotypical norms. It is my brother. It shows the changes we have achieved. We have gained unity from males to support us in menstrual health and SRHR. Slowly but surely, we will be heard and reach a larger number.
This picture talks about the involvement of men and boys in the SRHR and MH project. Brothers, fathers, sons and husbands came forward to discuss women issues in their homes. They educated themselves about MH and about how women’s issues are associated with it. I’ve been able not only to sensitize my own family but many other families as well. I hugely believe that it all starts at a domestic level and this picture is an example of that. In this
picture you see my brother sitting in front of the screen and showing a curiosity to educate himself about SRHR.
It makes me very happy that parents are now asking questions, it means they are open to change. We have a lot of informal conversations and chats about these issues, and it makes me realize how comfortable we have become around these topics. I really hope that daughters of the coming generations will be heard even better because of the openmindedness we have created through the project in men.
D. Mental health
The oranges in the back symbolize the time before the Mental Health program: you cannot see what’s inside. I could not see what’s inside, what I thought or felt. And because of COVID I couldn’t see and focus. Through the Mental Health program, I learned to connect with my emotions and my thoughts. I can clearly see my mind as an orange with the peel off. This is my heart. I can feel my emotions so deeply and know what I want.
This image is about MH. We can see schoolgirls who have a workload. The one sitting is saying: ‘I want to give up. I’m not in the mental state to be able to handle it all’. The one standing up is saying: ‘I’ll support you – I’ll take care of you and help you through your hard times’. Moral support between young ladies is very uncommon. Bullying in South Africa between young women is big. But now, instead of picking on each other we are comforting each other. This shows that we can also lift each other up. This is a huge change.
E. Increased knowledge & creating awareness
This picture talks about the connectivity through generations. This is my mother. She is talking to someone and sharing her experiences and knowledge on a particular topic. Mothers are the first educators of young women; they are the hidden vital role of us moving forward.
By showing my mother on the other side of the window, I wanted to show that even though
she is a housewife, and she is in the outside world and taking things forward. The open cracked window is a ray of hope that there is a lot of scope to move things forward. I want to show that she is now passing on her knowledge about menstruation, contraception, safe sex with her future generation rather than passing on old cultural beliefs. She is trying to bust the myths associated with these concepts. She is building on the right narratives for
the future generation.
This picture of a hand holding seeds shows how we can move forward as empowered young women from each country who will grow into something more in the future. I believe we will all go a long way because the YWCA have gathered us all to learn and work together.
It can also be the representation of the new generation that we are trying to reach and help grow. So they will also be empowered and be the ones to plant new seeds on young woman and girls in the future.
This picture is about moving forward and about how we should carry this movement ahead. We need to create a resolution out of this project and reach out to more younger women. My work with young women on prevention of sexual harassment was a huge success. These young women disseminated the information beyond my workshops. I received cases even
after the workshops had ended which showed the immense impact I created on these women’s minds. Therefore, our work needs to be amplified by other sisters all around the world. We are creating stronger women around us. Let’s keep working hard and move forward to keep changing this. This is just the first step.
When engaging with the adolescent mothers, we formulated peer group because we noticed that a lot of girls were facing the same challenges. In these groups they could share their stories and also motivate each other. It was a safe space and also a space where to share their success stories.
We had a manual to guide us so they could talk about specific topics. For example: who is a hero? If you’ve overcome a challenge, you’re also a hero.
One of the achievements of this project was strengthening the peer groups. Before the adolescent mothers were afraid to express themselves well. But with similar people, from the same age, they gained this confidence.
F. Empowerment & female leadership
What I want to emphasize in this image is our focus on SRHR topic as it is a significant change. We were able to gain more knowledge and awareness as we specialize and work on this topic.
Like for example, my perception on victim blaming. In my younger years for example, I heard and read stories and comments about bad things that can happen to a woman because of what she is wearing and/or doing. These things made me think that it is the woman’s fault that such things happen.
However, going through with this project, I was able to hear other stories that tells the opposite and became more aware that those reasons are not why this happens to women. And us, women, should not be held responsible for the bad actions of others toward us. Specially, women should feel free to express themselves.
This picture is talking about equal opportunities. It shows three elements: the cup, the brick wall and the open sky. Each represents different concept of SRHR.
The cup talks of education, knowledge and equal opportunities at home as well as at work can raise a new generation of stronger confident women. We talk about feminism and equal rights. But I’m also depicting GBV. As we move beyond the cup, we see the brick wall. If girls are educated from a very young age, they can understand when they are being abused.
With this boost in confidence and strength these girls can climb beyond the brick wall and fly into the open sky. This project has shown that girls are girl bosses. We need equal opportunities, empowering girls to break walls and fly high in the open sky.
You can see the #Not In My Name in the back, advocating against GBV. It is the silent cry for our sisters, we are standing in solidarity with them. We are standing in a window depicting ourselves as prisoners. But we refuse to be bullied, to be violated. We are standing in solidarity to say: not in my name, no to GBV.
Before the project started these women were not prepared to advocate in this a way.
Through this project we were able to gain a network of people around Asia in which we collectively brainstorm on the techniques and approach on the topics of SRHR and MH.
Hearing of the diversity of experience and culture that surrounds the topic, gives us more urgency to act upon it.
This picture shows empowered women and girls. The SRHR and MH programs empowered these girls. I was empowered but I could also empower others. A cycle of empowerment.
Empowered women can empower other women to live their leadership.
The name of the street: ‘October’ street, refers to the month of the revolution of the creation of the Soviet Union. But it also a creative modern street: with galleries and art and a lot of graffiti. Like the lady painted on the wall who is trying to break the system. The girls are following her, they are also breaking the system.
Thanks to the SRHR and MH program, young Belorussian women have the possibility to educate themselves, to express themselves. The projects helped to ruin the stigma about gender roles. IVKA helped to grow a new kind of leadership, a new kind of community of talented, openminded ladies.
The picture illustrates our SRHR trainings which helped me exercise my rights and become more empowered in deciding on what can be the best for me.
There are times where I was asked questions such as: ‘Why I still don’t have kids?’, ‘Why I am still not married?’ which sometimes put pressure on me. But now I no longer feel any of that since I was able to learn and know from within myself that it is my body, my rights and I will decide when I am ready.
This picture shows a group of girls learning how to make menstrual pads. This session was about menstrual hygiene. ‘Girls, once you your period, it’s not the end of your lives, you just need to take care of yourself.’ Of your menstrual period. This was the message.
We gave them the skills to make their own reusable pads so they can fully participate in all activities regardless of their menstrual period.
This explains the freedom of a woman who is expressing her reproductive rights. In Malawi, it’s the men who make the decisions. Whether a woman wants or not, it’s the man who decides what contraceptive method to use or not. Now in the project we empowered women to know they have the right to choose, to choose the contraceptive methods they want to use.