25th-26th October 2018
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Natalia Vodianova’s digital charitable giving platform, ELBI, has announced a two-day event to tackle the taboos of sexual, reproductive and mental health as well as gender equality. In partnership with UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, the event comprises a Davos-style forum with high profile speakers and an awards ceremony to recognize the outstanding endeavors of changemakers fighting globally for women’s health, choices and rights.
Supermodels who will join Vodianova at the panel are Anja Rubik and Adwoa Aboah, two of the most recognized faces in the fashion industry. Aboah co-founded an online community, Gurls Talk, for young women and mental health. The panel will delve into the mindset of millennials and how society can configure to support their needs and provide access to a more prosperous future. Bringing her inspirational Gurls Talk platform to the event, the panel will differ from the traditional format with the audience consisting predominantly of students from the Antalya University. The talk will take an interactive approach allowing audience members to share their thoughts and build a rapport with the speakers.
“Mental health is a crucial discussion in any language, society and culture – one that is often swept under the carpet as an inconvenient and awkward topic shrouded in a lack of awareness and understanding”, said Adwoa.
Polish model Anja Rubik will be speaking on a panel looking at the role of governments and the civil society in changing perceptions around women’s health.
Prior to her participation on the panel, Anja Rubik said: “Growing up in a country where sex is a major taboo and education surrounding female health is non-existent, I know just how damaging the lack of awareness can be for young females. We need to do more in the way of international curriculums to educate young females of their menstrual, sexual and reproductive health.
Stigma and taboos around women’s health are pervasive in most societies and their effects have serious negative consequences, sometimes putting lives at risk. Taboos around menstruation, for example, can lead to women not having access to hygiene products, being deterred from taking part in school or sports activities, and risking infections and other complications. Taboos around health education can also lead to young people not knowing how to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, or early pregnancy. Stigmas around the sexual and reproductive health of persons with disabilities can lead to a lack of adequate maternal health services, and fear of repercussions for talking about domestic violence can result in women not seeking help despite being in an abusive relationship. In addition, 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience mental disorders, with half of all mental illnesses beginning before the age of 14.
Natalia’s drive to pursue the ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign stems not only from her commitment to use her profile to push positive social messaging, but also her personal experiences of hailing from a society in which women’s health, disability and sexuality education was severely stigmatized.