IRC Partners with 50 Cents. Period. for a Women's Health Workshop
The IRC in Atlanta began a health empowerment workshop series for refugee women on July 13 in partnership with 50 Cents. Period. This organization provides women, locally and internationally, with sanitary products and health education to combat the stigma surrounding menstruation and enable women to take control of their bodies and their lives.
Photo: Beth Rutten-Turner/IRC
Photo: Beth Rutten-Turner/IRC
Gathered together in an IRC classroom, nine Burmese refugee women heard 50 Cents. Period. volunteers discuss a variety of women’s health topics: female anatomy, the menstrual cycle, what to expect from a gynecologist visit, home breast exams, various birth control options, pregnancy, family planning, and STDs, including HIV/AIDS. For the first time in their lives, the women in attendance were able to learn about their bodies from medical professionals in an open and culturally-appropriate environment. The six hour workshop, also presented information about general hygiene and dental care, as well as Medicaid and other health insurance options. At the end of the day, participants received gift bags with personal hygiene items, sanitary products, condoms, dental care products, and more. The women also had the opportunity to arrange gynecologist visits and STD testing appointments.
“One of the best parts of my job,” says Meliha Bosnjak, Logistics Manager for the IRC in Atlanta and coordinator of the workshops, “is empowering newly arrived refugees with services available in the U.S. that they did not have access to before. We are often dealing with women who have never been educated about their bodies or health – either because the knowledge was unavailable or because it was prohibited – and workshops such as this are a wonderful way for them to receive the information necessary to make healthy life choices.” Bosnjak added that this is only the first of many workshops planned for the coming year, and that the IRC and 50 Cents. Period. hope to reach 200 women by September 1, 2014.
The IRC in Atlanta would like to thank Lorrie King, who founded 50 Cents. Period. in 2011 and helped make this workshop series possible. She realized the need for the organization after visiting schools in India. One teacher brought attention to an often ignored population—girls forced to miss class for one week out of every month because of their inability to purchase sanitary products. In fact, the unaddressed issue of menstruation was quietly creating a learning gap for girls in many regions of the world. The organization’s name refers to the cost of a package of sanitary napkins in such areas; just 50 cents helps these girls overcome a serious educational barrier.
Today, 50 Cents. Period. works in India, Nepal, Uganda, and here in Georgia to provide sanitary products, inform women about the health issues most relevant to their lives, advocate for social and economic empowerment, and create partnerships with other community groups and nonprofit organizations. The IRC in Atlanta is proud to be working with 50 Cents. Period. to help women make health choices for themselves with confidence and with dignity.
To learn more about the mission and impact of 50 Cents. Period. visit their website: http://www.50centsperiod.org/.
For more information about the IRC’s women’s health programs, please contact Meliha Bosnjak at Meliha.Bosnjak@Rescue.org and at 678-636-8908.