11 May 2015

I ♥ Being a Girl people, Viktoria

Greetings to everyone!

My name is Viktoria Derkach, I am from Ukraine

Since April 2015 I have joined I <3 Being a Girl Community and I’m very excited and highly motivated to take part in all the activities of the Working Group!

In my life firstly I enjoy life! That I’m alive, can breathe, see, hear, feel, love, walk etc.
Secondly, I enjoy traveling. I’ve already been to more than 13 countries and I’m not going to stop, cause it’s a great opportunity to discover the world, meet new people, cultures and traditions, learn new languages and see different sights.
Thirdly, I enjoy helping people. It concerns different fields: work, study, volunteering, everyday life. It makes me happy when I can as minimum give an advice as maximum do something for a person.

As for my work with SRHR, it started not long ago. I started volunteering in Women Health and Family Planning Foundation only this February from participation in the process of planning and conduction of the event, dedicated to the International Contraception Day and St. Valentine’s Day. Before (till now) I was working in Kiev branch of "All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV" in Project RESPECT "Tolerant attitude towards people living with HIV and most-at-risk groups from  health workers from pilot health facilities in Kiev" as  an assistant manager of projects and programs; was a volunteer in  Left Bank center for HIV – positive children and teens and provided lectures for teenagers (clients of the Centre) on different topics, like hygiene, relations with opposite sex, reproductive health etc; also took part in a Project of cultural exchange “Summer Camp” at the school for smart pupilsLycée pilote de Sousse” in Tunisia, where I was teaching English to students aged 14-18 years, holding discussions, debates, presentations and creating projects on different topics, like feelings, health, future plans, relations, friendship, love etc; also was a volunteer in NGO “AIDs Healthcare Foundation”, where I organized a flashmob, dated to Valentine's Day and HIV / AIDS topic with the slogan "Protect your love!", during which we performed dances, distributed condoms and brochures about love and sex, contraception, health etc. But I’m really interested in the SRHR area and happy that I can do my first steps as I <3 Being a Girl working group member.

I think the world would be a better place if everybody would: 
- see not only their needs and interests, but also of the person near;
- listen not only to the opinion of society, mass media and celebrities, but always have your own opinion;
- read biographies and success stories of well-known people in history for self-motivation and for knowing what to strive for;
- try to set unrealistic targets and don’t stop on reached. so there are no unrealistic goals, there are only ones that need more time and efforts.

Before I'm 80, I'd like to know that all my achievements and vital actions brought, bring or will bring benefit not only to me but also to my loved ones, family, friends, and humanity in general. That is what will make me happy and I’ll know that life is lived not in vain.

I ♥ Being a Girl people, Julia

Dear awesome people,

My name is Julia Danyltsova and I am from Ukraine. 

Since March 2015 I have joined I <3 Being a Girl Community and will be happy to inspire and get inspired within the Working Group!

A bit about myself in this article. :-)

Long-long time ago... (September 2012)... I have been doing my internship at Women Health and Family Planning Foundation. This is where I learned what SRHR is, where I have done my first steps in advocacy. I became a volunteer and member of youth group after finishing the internship. This experience totally changes the life. I have started volunteering on international level by joining YSAFE network. Just a year ago I became ASTRA-youth member and I’m constantly developing my skills in advocacy by taking actions on national, regional and international levels. Now I am YSAFE Steering Committee Member and I <3 Being a Girl working group member which are challenges for me.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
  • see: at least 5 countries different to their motherland 
  • listen: to their hearts
  • read: a love-letter from a person they love
  • try: to do things which make them happy and to avoid everything which disappoints them

Before I am 80, I’d like to know that this world is safe and happy place for my children, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren.

I enjoy:
  • Travelling
  • Getting acquainted with new people / countries / cultures
  • Spending time with my friends
Let's get acquainted!

08 May 2015

Music: fun vs treatment

It's Friday and many of us are planning week-ends. Check out some intersting facts about music!
Listening to the music is something we do all the time: in the transport, at the office, with friends, during workouts and at the parties.

What music to listen to benefit twice? 

Music can make you cry, laugh, feel excited or angry. It’s a powerful medium that can be used as a tool if we know how to use it. Experts say music can improve our mood and even change behavior.

It all starts when the music goes in our ears and right to our brain, lighting up all different parts.
“You’re seeing areas involved (in the brain) with movement, memory, emotion, planning, taking action,” says Bob Miller, a music therapist at Western Psychiatric Institute of UMPC.
He says music can affect us emotionally and physically, even reducing stress.
“It can affect our heart rate a little bit. It can affect our breathing rate,” Miller says. “It can help to even participate in singing, and music can help reduce stress hormones and to increase levels of hormones like dopamine or serotonin that can really help us feel better.”
Music can also change your mood.

If you want to relax, pick the right music — something that has a slower tempo, repetition — either in the melody or the background or beat. That helps us disengage so we don’t have to pay attention to it.

And if there are words, it helps to find something in another language so you are not thinking about what the words are saying. If you had a hard day, you can choose music to help you work through that on your drive home.

Miller says you could start with angry or intense music to get out any negative energy and then use other music to bring you to whatever state of mind you’re looking for — relaxed, upbeat.

Music can even be used as medicine. Trained occupational therapists use music to help kids with special needs, like autism and developmental delays. Jami Dantry and Amy Demi use “The Listening Program” with children at schools in Follansbee, West Virginia.

Let music be the only medecine you'll ever need! :-)

I <3 being a girl! What about you? ;-)

05 May 2015

Experiment: To shave or not to shave?

Isn't that a little bit ridiculous that we are thought to feel ashamed of our own bodies? Either those are body parts, sounds or smells which are considered as simply gross and unwelcome. Their existence is ignored. Even if body shaming is taught for both genders, woman are still more restricted than man. In most of the times women are told that they should feel ashamed for being proud of their body and exposing it in its natural state. As a punishment to "rebels" for being themselves they are often the black sheep among the peers or even in surrounded society. People always want to be accepted and to belong, that's why in most of the times we take the choice to go against yourself than majority of the people. It appears in all societies and in all levels. Either it's the way of speaking, behavior, choices, priorities or general body appearance.
One of them, very generalized and stigmatized, is women and body hair. True that lately this topic is reaching the tops and is discussed not only in private and secret meetings but also in media, conferences and even we can hear it in public transport as a chit-chat between two people, which is great!
Few days ago I watched this BuzzFedd video where several women and a man took a 30 day challenge to not shave any of their body hair. How it went for them you can see in a video but also me, member of the IHBG, took a bit longer challenge several months ago for a personal research reasons without any intention to share but this video encouraged me to talk about it and where else if not here!?

Motivation: I wanted to know how it feels to let it go! I have been born and raised in Eastern Europe and in my culture it is taken for granted that women have to get rid of their body hair. Since puberty I have been spending time and resources for it. I remember that I was disgusted to see a woman with hairy  legs and armpits. Meanwhile, I was also bothered by my own reaction to a females natural state (considered as unattractive and aggressive) but not males. And I just simply wanted to know how it looks and feels like.

Feelings during the experiment: at first I felt very, very uncomfortable. Whenever I saw my body hair it felt like it does not belong there, that it's not part of me, it's not natural. I was checking it out whenever I had a chance and I had to make sure that no one else notices my little experiment. First couple of weeks I was anxious, always long sleeves and trousers. Just like for the BuzzFeed people, my biggest problem were armpits. 
Time went by and eventually I got used to different self. My body hair did not bother me anymore and at the end I was happy that for the first time I had a chance to see how I actually look! T-shirts and tank tops were not problem any more.

author: Bula Anarbekova
Conclusion: This experiment made me more confident and less judgmental. As soon as I stopped to bother about my own body hair also I stopped to care what are the choices by other women. Even if I don't mind body hair at all my choice is to keep it off because it is less hot (I really felt a difference) and because hairy armpits and quick showers don't work (even with deodorant). It always took more extra time in shower and still, at the end of the day, my clothes were more smelly than before. I could never wear the same shirt the next day. Too much work.
But now I really don't bother to shave one or two days later than I would do before this experiment, usually people don't even notice and even if they do, no one cares that much. It's in our mind.
Stereotypes disproved: I didn't turn my feminism into aggressive one, I did not change my sexual orientation, I did not become less of a woman than before.
All I did was that I got to know myself more and broke my own prejudices.

After doing little research I found out that historically the body hair (in some societies) have been considered unattractive to men and women because of the medical reasons. Although the hair purpose is to protect, the lack of proper hygiene in armpits and pubic area made suitable environment (warm and mild) for vermin and diseases to develop, eventually people noticed that and realized that no hair means no problems.
Nowadays, when we are aware of hygiene body hair are still not accepted. Nowadays we are victims of very stigmatized social construct which shames women, especially young women, defining them primitive and aggressive. Unfortunately persuasion of aggressiveness as a quality for a men but not suitable for a women is still very strong in our society. That is why the stereotype of being a real men includes wild body hair. Although it's slowly changing and for many men hair removal is a trend which is a choice while for women it's still a must.
Anyhow, I don't want to generalize hair removal as a worldwide trend because there are many other cultures (besides Western culture) who do not empathize hair removal as a necessity to fit in the cultural norms. Couple of years ago, while visiting India, I was travelling with another friend and a Indian companion who noticed that I have a razor in my bag. He was very surprised and did not know that any woman in the world ever uses a razor and that it is even a common thing. We had a very interesting conversation for both of us. At that time I was surprised by his reaction but now, when I realize that Western culture does not define the world, I think that it was pretty amazing experience to have!

P.S. I suggest every single woman to leave that razor away for 30 days! Not to prove something to someone but for yourself, to get to know yourself better! And we would love if you could share it with IHBG!