By: Habiba Cooper Diallo
The Fistula and Empowerment Program (FEP) has officially commenced! Today was the very first day it took place. What is FEP you ask?
It is a fistula education and empowerment program I started to educate young African-descended women living in Halifax, Canada, about obstetric fistula and how it relates to the overarching theme of women’s empowerment not only in Africa, but also to their own self-empowerment as Black women living in Canada who have unique, and often marginalized, health experiences.
The participants will meet on a weekly basis for two hours each session. In the first hour, I do fistula education with them explaining the technical aspects of fistula-- how it occurs from a prolonged, obstructed labour, the physiological consequences for the affected woman etc.-- as well as the social, psychological, and economic repercussions of the affliction. In the second hour, participants collectively decide upon a topic relating to their own health and well-being that they would like to address.
As today was the very first session, Yolanda, one of the participants, made a list of topics that the group said they would like to discuss in the coming weeks.
I am very pleased that the program has come off the ground. My team and I initially wanted to begin in March; however, due to space and funding issues we had to push back the start date to April. Luckily, we were able to secure a space at one of our local universities. We still do not have funding. Nonetheless, we've brainstormed innovative ways to run the program without start-up funding.
FEP will run as a pilot project from now (April) until the end of June. Thus, over course of three months, participants will develop insight about obstetric fistula and self-empower through the weekly sessions around a particular health/sociomedical topic
I am excited for the Fistula and Empowerment Program....! Are you? ;)
Habiba Cooper Diallo
I am a Canadian fistula advocate and blogger, and the founder of the Women’s Health Organization International, WHOI. I have been doing fistula awareness-building in Canada for the past 10 years. My work on fistula has led me to Guinea, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. I have been featured in Forbes, the HuffPost, and UNFPA