It is estimated that one in five girls will miss school due to extreme menstruation symptoms, such as period pain and excessive bleeding. Research carried out in Cardiff showed that “almost a third of students currently feel that their period impacts negatively on their school attendance.”

There is a high probability that some of those students have a gynaecological condition needing medical intervention. However, the lack of education surrounding menstrual well-being in Welsh schools means that girls and young women miss vital information about what’s normal and what’s not.

On the 25th June 2020, a patient-led organisation called “Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales” reported that the Welsh Senedd had closed the petition to make menstrual well-being compulsory on the new Welsh school curriculum. It will now be up to each school, meaning the levels of education students will receive will vary. This news frustrated many people in Wales, and understandably so.

From September 2020, the topic will become mandatory in schools in England, meaning that many students in Wales will fall behind with this knowledge. Additionally, the diagnostic delay for endometriosis in Wales is 8.5 years which is already a year longer than in England. With the addition of this critical well-being becoming mandatory in England, we can expect to see the delays fall there – whilst in Wales, it is likely that the opposite will occur.

Endometriosis is a debilitating gynaecological condition affecting one in ten women and girls. It is largely unheard of, meaning that many young girls suffer for years before getting a diagnosis. Without menstrual well-being education, these one in ten girls are being deprived of essential education which could see them get answers to their suffering.

I spoke to Anna Cooper, a woman living with endometriosis in Wales, about how she feels regarding the lack of menstrual education. Cooper was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis 2 weeks before her 18th birthday, despite her symptoms first becoming debilitating when she was just 14.

I asked Cooper if she’d received any menstrual well-being education at school and she replied saying: “Most definitely not. We were only taught basic sex education.”

Cooper explained how her “teachers often would make sly remarks as if (her symptoms) were an excuse to miss sports lessons” and how “if only (she) was taken seriously and teachers recognised the signs”.

“It is vital that it becomes compulsory in all school curriculums. Wales already falls behind in being able to provide care for women with endometriosis,” said Cooper. “We need to normalise talk surrounding menstrual health and ensure young girls have the confidence to talk about any concerns they have. To not suffer in silence for years and not to be told that painful periods are normal”.

Menstrual well-being should be compulsory in all schools, no matter which country you live in. Let’s make sure that we use our voices to educate the next generation of young girls. No one should have to suffer alone. We have a duty to protect our women and young girls.

AUTHOR: Holly Hostettler-Davies

I am Aryan Ashory, a 15 year old who is recognized in Europe mostly by my status as a refugee. My life revolves around living in one European country with my family, then having to move frequently. One of our worst moments involved spending our nights on the streets, with our backpacks. It was cold in Greece and we were living with uncertainty. That time, I learnt that these difficult situations teach us lessons — life changes many times and is filled with incredible moments and happiness, but also some horrible times.

In 2019, I began training with GlobalGirl Media (GGM). I have learnt to raise my voice and the voices of unheard girls and women who are forced to be silent. I have used my camera to film daily life, to bring silences alive through the medium of film.

Being a member of GGM is teaching me to raise my voice and stand for equality, and remove the idea of difference between men and women. I now have some reporting experience to make people aware of what is happening in the world. Having experience as a reporter is teaching me to stand strong enough. I want to write more about my reporting work as a young journalist at Athens Democracy forum. At this Conference, I met many personalities: the President, prime ministers, and members of European parliament, politicians, authors and some more. It was a big honour to talk with some of these personalities about democracy and how important the voices of women and girls are.

From joining GGM, I feel like I have become more active. I have become a better researcher. I have let my voice be heard, and not just be heard, but also understood. I don't want to keep seeing the problems in my life that serve as a wall blocking my dreams. I want to break down the wall, but I can't. I see a big challenge in my way. Living with uncertainty is destroying me physically and mentally and getting in the way of me achieving my goals. I cannot relax. I have missed my school for a long time, and not just me, my two brothers as well. However, I hope we can find a way to start our life and live in confidence, with relaxed minds. I want to see my parents with smiling faces and not always carrying stress (Can we stay here? Do we have the right documents? Do we have a place to live? As well as a lot more worries, which I hope will finish).

I will stay strong and (Inshallah) will never give up because of the problems. Life is too short. Let's remember we are all human and celebrate humanity.

By guest blogger: Aryan Ashory

Arts are everywhere in the UK. From our well-established national galleries to our well-humoured TV shows; they showcase our national talent, British humour and the skills of our creators. But recently, the arts may be at risk of being accessible only to the elite and the industry shut off to undiscovered creatives.

The Covid-19 bailout for the arts has only been announced with £1.57bn in emergency support. However, subsidies and continual support is not only needed to keep these establishments alive, but to nurture future talent.

Additionally, there is another threat to accessibility for the arts. State schools have proposed reducing the total number of GCSEs students are taking. Slashing art, music, design subjects to support working class students will be more damaging than helpful. As private schools continue to offer the usual 8+ subjects, their students will be exposed to more options and opportunities further down the line. For private schools, creative subjects aren’t regarded as a luxury; they are a part of normal education. Why isn’t this the same case for state schools? Why is there a preconception that less well-off students can do without these subjects?

The consequences for future creatives will be devastating. Many will not even have the opportunity to explore potential skills, talents and ability. National creativity will become more elitist and consistently less accessible. This cannot happen!

Many working-class creatives have become national treasures, but they could only achieve this through support and chances. One notable woman is Michaela Coel. She has recently produced and starred in her latest series ‘I May Destroy You’. She has described her upbringing on a council estate in east London, where her family would receive “a bag of shit through our letter-box”. For working class students — and especially working class, black and female students — being denied the exploration of creativity from an early age will be catastrophic.

“The lack of varied perspective among producers, the lack of misfits producing telly can have catastrophic consequences,” Michaela says. This is an issue which will not only affect one class, but will also have a knock-on effect on intersecting conditions. She endured racial slurs throughout her creative education and lamented the lack of possibilities and assistance for minorities in television. Yet, all of her shows have been highly regarded and her genius awarded.

If this industry is already punishing enough for women like Michaela, what will it be like in the future? There needs to be a call for MORE aid for younger, talented women of colour, not LESS. Creativity should be celebrated and highly considered. It shouldn’t be a luxury only the rich can indulge in. Without diversity, there will be a single perspective in our shows and our arts. Talented individuals may be overlooked whilst mediocrity is normalized and championed.

AUTHOR: Dila Yalman

Dila is an Intern at GGM UK. She is an aspiring journalist and currently studies Economics at the University of Edinburgh.

Dila writes and edits for her university's Economics Magazine, as well as for a start-up fashion magazine. She also regularly writes pieces ranging from academic critiques to political reports for her blog. Most of her writing reflects what she has personally encountered and tells the story of real people.

Dila is seeking to assert her journalistic voice while providing a voice for those who do not have one and this is what she aims to gain from her experience at GGM UK.


GlobalGirl Media UK is a registered company limited by guarantee (Company No 10177040).

UK Registered Charity No 1176765

 © 2019 GlobalGirl Media UK