In a post-match interview at the Australian Open last month, British tennis star Heather Watson turned heads when she spoke candidly about her menstrual cycle. She didn't say much, but it raised the volume on a topic that isn't discussed at all in profession sport.
"I felt very light-headed and low on energy—you know it's a shame that it's today. With the way I was feeling... um it didn't do me any favours today ... I think it's just one of these things that I have, girl things. It just, yeah, happens."
Heather's honesty helped shine a spotlight on women's health. This is important, because with a lack of education and resources, millions of girls around the world are uneducated about their bodies and their right to protect themselves.
We're helping change that.
On March 8, we're celebrating International Women's Day by inspiring females around the world to make a positive change. Through the use of our specially-designed games geared towards women's sexual health, like
Name the Risk, and our gender resources like
My Life My Plan, we're using play as a tool for teaching important lessons on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In one of our programs in Tanzania, for example, a small group of school girls are on a mission: to ensure their peers know the facts about and how to protect their sexual health. This group uses play-based activities and presentations at special events to empower more than 400 students to take control of their well-being. And it's working.
More than half of adolescent girls in our Tanzania programs believe they can trust someone to talk to about their sexual decisions and health.
"We are very proud to see how our small group has managed to change the behaviour of our fellow students," says Sarah, leader of the Students AIDS Action Team.
These girls are becoming leaders in their community, and it's happening in our other program countries as well. In Ghana, 98 per cent of girls feel an increased level of self-confidence after participating in our programs. The more they play and get involved, the more protected and empowered they feel. And thanks to our 16,400 volunteer Coaches—58 per cent of whom are female—these children can feel nurtured and safe in their communities. Meanwhile, in Rwanda it has been noted that unwanted early pregnancies are decreasing as more girls spend their free time playing sports and games and become less vulnerable to harmful situations.
It's important for girls to know about their sexual reproductive health in a way they understand. That's why play is important: the lessons they learn will help them become strong, confident people.