The fight to protect women’s sexual reproductive health
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– Sensitising through health centres, churches, youth groups and public forums

FORMED just over a year ago, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Adventures is an initiative that seeks to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health and rights with a special focus on family planning/contraception in Guyana. This initiative was conceived by Dr. Patricee Douglas whose interest was spawned by her love for women’s and girls’ health and rights and her numerous encounters with individuals from Guyana who were unaware of how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Since the establishment of this NGO, SRHR Adventures facilitated countless sessions on family planning, abortion, and adolescent pregnancy among other SRHR topics at local health centres, churches and youth groups predominantly in Region Four, with the aim of increasing public awareness, while focusing more on the health of women and making every effort to dismantle many taboos relating to women’s health and rights.

#COMFORTWITHEVERYDROP

Additionally, SRHS launched their quarterly sanitary pad project entitled #comfortwitheverydrop on February 3, at the Giftland Mall where sanitary napkins were collected and monetary donations. As part of this project, provision was made for sanitary pads to be given to women who cannot afford to purchase same.
Moreover, an awareness booth titled ‘Leh we gyaff bout periods’ was set up and the public was engaged in conversations about menstruation, menstrual hygiene and myths about periods.

In the month of March, they will donate the sanitary napkins to the young ladies of the St. Ann’s Orphanage, Women Across Differences and the cancer patients at the Beacon Foundation. In addition to their sanitary napkins distribution, they will facilitate health talks on menstruation, menstrual hygiene, and cervical cancer.
They are soliciting the public to continue to contribute towards the #ComfortWithEveryDrop sanitary napkin drive. The public can leave sanitary napkin donations in their box which is in front of Sports Maxx at the Giftland Mall or message them on their Facebook page; SRHR Adventures with Dr. Pat.

Dr Watson told the Pepperpot Magazine that many women and girls in poverty across the world are not able to access clean and safe sanitary products because they are unaffordable or unavailable. This has a huge impact on the lives of women and girls, from preventing them from going to school to an increase in the likelihood of infections, which exacerbate cycles of poverty and inequality. If girls don’t have access to sanitary towels or to private toilets at school, they can be forced to skip school during their periods.

When girls miss several days of school a month, they are more likely to drop out altogether. That’s why SRHR Adventures recognises that sanitary products are not a ‘nice-to-have’ – they are essential in helping women and girls break out of poverty and take control of their own lives. Hence, they have embarked on a quarterly sanitary napkin project captioned #comfortwitheverydrop in which they will be gathering sanitary pads for girls and women who can’t afford.

MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
Every month the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilised egg. If the egg doesn’t get fertilised, that lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina. This monthly process is called menstruation or a period. Women have an estimated 450 periods during their lifetime, which is what would be expected in a natural biological process of every girl and woman and for which the survival and propagation of the human species depend on, Dr Faqueeda Wilson explained.

She said that menstruation is a taboo topic in many societies and is shrouded in secrecy and shame. “There’s a long history of menstrual taboos across nearly all cultures, and these continue to manifest in subtle and complex ways, Jane Ussher, professor of Women’s Health Psychology at Western Sydney University, said: ‘Periods [have long] been associated with dirt, and disgust, and shame, and some might say fear.’ However, SRHR Adventures (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) wishes to change that narrative and shatter all taboos surrounding periods, by spreading the message that menstruation matters in the month of February,” she exclaimed.

WOMEN’S AND GIRLS’ HEALTH
It was disclosed that SRHR was birthed from the founder’s love for women’s and girls’ health and rights; a close friend’s encouragement and her countless encounters with women and girls who had no clue of how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Ever since the establishment of the group, they have facilitated a number of awareness sessions on family planning, adolescent pregnancy, abortion and other SRHR topics at local health centres, churches, the Giftland Mall & youth groups predominantly in Region Four.

SELF-DEFENCE CLASSES
The group collaborated late last year with the Korean International Martial Arts Guyana to offer self-defence classes to females to equip them with the necessary skills to protect themselves. In addition, they have used social media to get their message out on the importance of the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer screening and engaging men and boys in the family planning process by undertaking social media campaigns: #VaccinateDon’tProcrastinate, #ProtectYuhCervix and #ControlYuhSeeds respectively. (mercilinburke2017@gmail.com)

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