Our colleague Sabina Zikmundova held an EU-funded workshop on menstruation and female health for youth workers in Georgia to address the gender stereotypes and stigma surrounding menstruation and female health in communities where these subjects are taboo.
After completing her master’s thesis on menstrual stigma in pop culture at the University of Aberdeen, UK, Sabina continued her research on the state of young female reproductive health in Georgia, where she spent eight months volunteering for the European Solidarity Corps at Georgian Youth for Europe.
Sabina’s findings revealed that Georgian youth lacked the necessary communication and resources to become educated about their physiological and psychological wellbeing during the hormonal changes of adolescence and young adulthood. To address this need, Sabina designed and delivered ‘Moon Circle: The Empowerment of Young Female Reproductive Health’, a training course that received funding from the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe to call attention to the taboos, gender stereotypes and stigma ingrained in the traditional views at the core of local religious and ethnic practices.
Twenty-five girls and young women between 15 and 30 years of age attended the Moon Circle workshop. These girls and women, who were either local youth workers or active community members, were then able to increase their knowledge in informal educational settings by facilitating separate workshops on reproductive health in their own communities, including those of Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnic minorities.
The project enhanced the ability of different ethnic groups’ ability to live together in a peaceful and inclusive society by supporting intercultural dialogue and educating disadvantaged youth from rural areas. The project also promoted gender equality by improving young women’s self-awareness and self-confidence. This improvement was reflected in attendees’ overall feedback in which 100% of the participants reported that they now feel more empowered in standing up for their reproductive rights. As a result, many of these young women have become advocates for female human rights and mental and physical health.