The days of quiet whispers and hushed talks about sex are long gone. Talking about sexual health should no longer be taboo. As the pathways for sexual health communication expand, the sexual health initiatives made to help women enjoy greater rights and resources grow, too.
And we’re not just talking about the efforts made to enhance the lives of women within the US alone. Fortunately, healthcare leaders across the globe have made it their mission to advance sexual and reproductive health as well.
Today, millions of women throughout the world are healthier and more empowered than ever before. From greater access to contraceptives to the expansion of breastfeeding laws, here’s a look at four sexual health initiatives around the world that are helping women enjoy the wellbeing they deserve.
1. The Normalization of Public Breastfeeding
At one point or another, we’ve all heard the buzz surrounding public breastfeeding. Should you? Shouldn’t you?
Whether you listened to a reporter discuss the controversy surrounding public breastfeeding laws on the afternoon news or you experienced firsthand the disapprovals of others while nourishing your baby in public, you know all too well that breastfeeding has not always been easy for women. (Honestly, what’s ever been easy for women?)
Fortunately, sexual health initiatives across the globe are putting a stop to breastfeeding stigmas and shaming. Release the tatas to the turned up noses of naysayers and feed your baby!
During the past several decades, nations throughout the world joined forces to increase the awareness surrounding breastfeeding benefits in an attempt to convince skeptics that natural child-feeding is healthy, normal and ideal.
In addition to spreading education on feeding babies, breastfeeding in public is now legally protected in many countries throughout the globe. *Snaps to that*
Australian law protects mothers against discrimination from breastfeeding, granting them the right to feed their child whenever they deem necessary. In the Philippines, nursing mothers have legal access to lactation stations that make it even easier for them to breastfeed throughout the workday.
For many people today, breastfeeding is as normal as seeing another individual enjoy an afternoon snack. If you were to walk past a woman in a park eating lunch, you wouldn’t give her a second glance. Many people have come to realize that a breastfeeding baby is merely receiving their daily nourishment in a similar way.
2. Widespread Access to Contraceptives
Can you imagine a world without condoms, birth control or other contraceptive products that enable protective and safe sex?
It’s hard to believe that prior to 1965, single or unmarried women were legally banned from accessing birth control within the US. Fortunately, one of the greatest — and perhaps most influential — effects of the sexual health revolution was the legalization and widespread distribution of birth control to women desiring stronger sexual independence.
And the US isn’t the only country to show its approval for improved women’s sexual health. In countries such as Mexico, Portugal and Korea, birth control can be obtained without a prescription, too.
Contraceptives have effectively declined HIV rates, decreased the chance of unwanted pregnancies and allowed individuals to enjoy sex without fear. We’d say that’s reason enough to love this widespread sexual health initiative, wouldn’t you?
3. Improved Sexual Education in Schools
Teen pregnancy rates have dipped. Fewer HIV infections spring up each year. And most importantly, adolescents are more knowledgeable about their sexual health than ever before. You may be asking yourself, “How did we get here?” It all starts by reaching out to youth at the right age and educating them.
While 90 percent of childless teenage girls graduate from high school, only 50 percent of teen parents can claim the same. When society prioritizes sexual health education, the effects can be astonishing. Sex-ed classes aren’t just successful ways to reduce teenage pregnancy, either. Reproductive health problems in adolescence, such as STDs, can be avoided by opening up conversations on preventative measures and safe sex habits.
4. The Prioritization of Female Reproductive Health
Periods are just an everyday part of women’s sexual health, so shouldn’t they be talked about, too?
Taboos around menstruation discourage women from carrying on with their lives while on their periods, but improved sexual health initiatives are ensuring that they don’t.
Menstruation in different cultures carries many different implications. But regardless of how a society views this natural biological process, one thing remains urgent — the need for feminine hygiene products that help keep women happy, healthy and free in a way society probably doesn’t consider enough.
In Uganda, greater access to feminine hygiene products in schools have led to lower dropout rates and improved education in the female population. For girls in Scotland, free sanitary products mean women no longer have to choose between buying groceries or tampons.
Periods aren’t going away anytime soon — Aunt Flo is winking right now — which is why discussions about female reproductive health and menstrual health are so meaningful. When the world views the menstrual cycle for the natural biological process that it is without judgment, women are in a better position to enjoy their everyday lives.
Because of the sexual health initiatives currently underway in nations across the globe, women can pursue greater opportunities thanks to these health advancements. The work towards increased rights and healthcare benefits is not finished, but women are in a better position to talk openly about their sexual health and receive the answers and solutions they need. *Snaps*