It is the 21st century and the world is still filled with a suffocating silence and dishonour about sexual health and gynaecological health. Shopkeepers continue to wrap sanitary napkins with newspapers or black plastic covers, women continue to hide them from their male fellow-mates while headed to the washroom, women also continue to refrain from entering the temples and….. Oh! The list does not end here. I’m sure each of us is right now relating to many more such “beliefs”.
September is the Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month and today, the 10th of September is celebrated as the International Gynaecological Awareness Day. Founded by Kath Mazzella in 2001, her sole agenda has been to empower and give voice to women who are victims of mental disturbances as a result of gynaecological or sexual ailments. Through her personal experience and her daughter’s story, she realized how women suffer in silence every day due to their menstrual cycle, sexual and other mental challenges.
After she was diagnosed with Vulva Cancer and post the surgery, the grief and disbelief she went through led her to ignore her daughter’s diagnosis of Endometriosis and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. A little time later, she happened to meet and pour her heart out with a lady with a similar condition of Vulva Cancer and surgery. This heart to heart meeting helped her realize the power of sharing stories and also how her daughter was left alone during her crisis. This late but happy realization made her jump forward and declare the International Gynaecological Awareness Day.
Women are unconsciously or consciously taught to feel embarrassed for their feminity. They are inculcated with shame about their periods from childhood. They begin to automatically feel secretive about their body, about the days that they bleed and about the intense pain/cramps that they face. This leads to a fear of rejection and loneliness sets in. Risk of depression and other mental disorders increase- the saddest part is that neither does the woman pay enough attention to this nor does the society.
To help women be empowered and encouraged with freedom of speech, expression and a basic right to action, the International Gynaecological Awareness Day was born.
It’s time that we all joined hands to end this and bring around a more livable society for both women as well as men. So what are the key messages and intentions of this day?
1. Eradicating taboos on sex, sexual health, menstrual cycle and gynaecological health, from the society
2. Break down stigmas through higher education, knowledge and sharing of experiences/stories
3. Bridging the communication gap between women and men, societal perception and reality, about the gravity of women issues
4. Bringing men out of the closet thus ensuring sensitive and empathetic handling of their mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, female friends and colleagues and even random women
5. Spreading the importance of a holistic treatment of women in the society
6. Removing barriers in the way of women and allowing them to experience a fresh, vivid and joyful life
7. Create opportunities, support and a platform for women and ensure a better health stability- both physically and mentally
Each participative hand matters. Together, we can bridge the societal gaps and make it a more jovial and caring place for all our ladies. Whether you are a woman, or a man, or a transgender, or a community, or a politician, or a government body, or an NGO, or anybody else, each of you can make a difference and each one of you is welcome! Read on to know how YOU are important to make this dream come true.