There is a culture of silence around menstruation for women and girls in Mozambique. It’s a stigmatised subject that means girls are not prepared when their period arrives. When a girl doesn’t understand how her body works, we disempower her. Lack of information can negatively impact her self-esteem and have serious health implications.
Sussu is an artist and mother living and working in Mozambique and wants to change that. Growing up there were few opportunities for her to be open about the changes she was experiencing in her body. The information shared with her was brief and serious. In some rural areas of Mozambique, this approach is still the same. She has seen first-hand the negative impact it can have on girls. Sussu told us,
Many times these types of workshops are treated in a serious and very formal way. We lose people’s sensitivities. When we give a leaflet to a girl who does not read, they will feel more stupid.
In the workshop, they will be passive and they will not say anything because they feel like they know nothing.
Using the power of play and storytelling, Sussu is helping to change the way women think about their periods. Her bravery in volunteering to speak up is enabling other women to share their experiences.
It was my first time I shared my personal story with a group of women. I confess that for a moment, I thought about giving up on doing it for fear of exposing myself. The reward was great. I feel lighter and I feel useful because after having shared all the women wanted to share theirs.
These stories inform the workshops Sussu and Clowns Without Borders UK have developed. Adapted to support the needs of girls, the workshops help to build supportive and trusting environments that validate girls’ experiences. Playful activities also help to reduce shame and let girl’s know that it’s ok to be themselves. Sussu said,
“Laughter and games bring us together quickly and easily. We all feel the same way. There is no trainer and there is no apprentice.
A thousand girls in the Sofala province have benefited from this new approach. A thousand girls now have what every girl deserves, the right to know and learn about their bodies.