194 Sexual Health
Activities to improve sexual health
Improving sexual health requires changing harmful gender roles
and removing barriers to sexual health. This is a long-term process
that can take generations, but change begins with us. In many
communities, women have formed groups to reflect and talk about
these issues. Here are 3 group activities to promote reflection and
action to improve sexual health in your community.
Activity : A journey through time
As women, the way we feel about our sexuality depends on beliefs we were taught
as girls, and on the experiences we have during our lives. In order to develop a
pleasurable and healthy sexuality, it is important to understand our beliefs and feelings
about what it means to be a woman. You can use this activity with a group of women
to begin thinking about gender roles.
It is important to allow enough time for this activity, and to create a peaceful
environment. Strong feelings can come out, so it is better if the women already know
each other well, or if the group or the facilitator have experience working with personal
subjects. It helps to start by setting some rules so that everyone feels safe (for example,
that nobody will interrupt, or laugh, or tell others what was said).
Ask the women to form a circle and make themselves comfortable. Tell them they
are going to take a trip back in time. The landscape is the history of their sexuality. Ask
them to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine themselves as little girls. Speaking
calmly and slowly, ask questions like the ones below. (You can adapt them so they are
appropriate for your group.) The women do not need to reply, just to remember. Wait
several minutes before asking the next question.
• How did you first realize that being a girl was different from being a boy?
• How did you feel the first time you had your monthly bleeding? What had you
been told about it?
• What was your first sexual experience like? What had you expected?
• Have you ever been worried that you had an STI? Did you go for help?
• Have you ever given birth? How did it affect your feelings about your sexuality?
When you were pregnant, did you hope for a girl or a boy? Why?
• Returning to the present, what feelings do you have about your sexual life?
Ask the women to open their eyes. Now that they have remembered some steps in
the history of their sexuality, invite them to share some of their reflections. Be prepared
to offer emotional support if anyone needs it. Then ask the group to analyze:
• What makes a woman a woman? What makes a man a man?
• How did you learn what it means to be a woman or a man?
• What do you like about being a woman? What do you not like?
• If you could be born again as a male, would you do it? Why or why not?
If the comments have been very negative, before ending, encourage everyone to
share at least one thing they like about being a woman. Being a woman can be hard,
but the daily struggles we face also make us strong and supportive of others.
End by asking what they would like to change so things could be different for their
daughters. What actions could they take?
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012