From the 21st to the 27th of November 2022 we had an opportunity to participate in a training course “And Period.” in Tenerife, Canary Islands. The aim of the training course was to encourage youth workers to talk and create workshops about menstruation, one of the key biological processes for our humanity which is still a taboo subject, full of myths and silences.
Through the methodology of non-formal education and experiential learning, we discussed how to deal with the taboos linked to menstruation, and how to work on menstruation with our young people and their families. Non-formal education offers us learning through different methods, working in international teams and discovering new approaches and ideas. The training course gathered youth workers from 6 countries: Belgium, Estonia, Italy, Germany, and Croatia. Our motivation was very strong as we are in the educational system, and we are facing the problem regarding menstruation on daily basis.
We started day one by getting to know each other on the beach where we used energizers and memory games to introduce ourselves and meet other participants. Further on we had a workshop about this week’s goals and how we’ll achieve and develop them. After that, we had a Walk and Talk where we were introduced to the place where we were staying – Playa de la Cruz and deepened our connection by answering given questions for 2 minutes in pairs. We were able to establish group dynamics, meet the place of our stay and prepare for the upcoming week.
On day two we had workshops that were focused on myths and taboos regarding menstruation based on countries where we were from, mapping the red flags and speaking about menstrual hygiene poverty. It was an amazing experience as we were divided into groups during the day, and we had an opportunity to share our personal experiences and also how menstruation is embedded in our culture and country. The experience was liberating and helped us to support and understand each other even more. What was even more empowering was the fact that our male team members until then were not aware of the difficulties that people who menstruate face every single month and this experience have opened their eyes.
Day three was interesting as our first workshop was to head to the city and speak with locals about the topic. We’ve asked them if they had information about menstruation before; did they have support from family and friends; if was it introduced in their schools; how did they feel. People were more than welcome to answer them and share their experiences. It was amazing to realize how Spain as a country is so open to this topic. Further on we’ve developed and defined what our workshops will be and how we’ll implement them once we get home.
Day four really produces amazing workshops that really helped us understand the topic better. We had a workshop about ”Endometriosis” to emphasize the importance of this condition that many young women are fighting with on a daily base. We enjoyed the workshop by the Belgium team ”Basketball and menstruation” where we learnt a lot about menstruating while playing sports. ”Non-menstruating crash course” was amazing because it was interactive and understanding for people that don’t menstruate. We would implement it easily in schools where we teach.
On the last day, we spoke about further steps which we’ll take once we head home. During the process, we also took some photographs and enjoyed every progress we made. Working with my team members was productive and I also had an opportunity to learn from others. The whole group was very motivated and included during the week. We’ve developed excellent connections that helped us create a safe and talkative environment. Huge thank you to Jana Pajić, our trainer, that set up an amazing week-flow and helped us to open up and talk about menstruation. She is extremely professional and kind. Thank you, Sam and Domingo, for your logistical support and the information provided. This experience helped in our own development, and we have learnt a lot about menstruation and how it affects our society. It was our first experience with this topic, and it was like we have won a lottery ticket! We’ve realized how important it is to make safe surroundings for women to open up and talk more about issues they have, products they’re using and how are they feeling. It was like a retreat for our souls that we can’t wait to implement in our work with youth. Thank you Association Strive! and Mojo de Caña for this life experience.
Authors: Nensi and Martina
Participants: Nensi Marinković, Martina Sokač, Martin Trubelja