Women's Health

A young journalist is using social media to highlight a hidden struggle of war for women

Women and girls are without feminine hygiene products increasing risk of infection.

Gaza; Bisan Owda; Israel Hamas war; period poverty; Palestine
Bisan Owda|Instagram/Aris Leoven|Canva

Young journalist highlights period poverty during war

Many citizens of western countries have no experience living in a war zone and the toll it takes on a person's overall wellbeing. Usually to protect the civilian population, other countries open their borders to allow those vulnerable inside so their needs can be met without the constant threat of harm. But not every population has the option to leave their war torn country for safety with the comfort of knowing they'll be able to return when it's safe.

For some people, they have to stay where they are and make do with what's available. This means dealing with situations that people who are donating to assist innocent civilians may not realize things that are needed outside of food, water and baby formula.

Bisan Owda, 25, is a journalist in Gaza who has made it her mission to strip the shame away from an issue unique to women trapped in the middle of a war.

In a now expired Instagram story, Owda explained that when the war between Israel and Hamas started, women took birth control pills to delay their menstrual cycles. The hope was to avoid their periods until the war was over as it would be an inconvenience while displaced from their homes. Except, this conflict has lasted longer than most anticipated, which means women and girls have found themself in an unsanitary predicament unique to them.

"The population of Gaza strip is 2.2 million people, 49 percent of them are women and women in Gaza do not have access to hygiene water, to personal hygiene supplies, to menstrual supplies, to sanitary pads," Owda says in a video uploaded to Instagram in early December. "They don't have access to all these things and women now are simply exposed to psychological and physical health risks because there's no products to use during their periods. Women are shy to tell you this but they don't have to be shy actually."

This is a reality that many people don't think about, including the organizations sending aid to the area as Owda points out in her video, it seems to be missing from the few aid trucks that are allowed into Gaza. The conditions are overcrowded and there are very few functioning bathrooms that these women have access to. But it's not just the women who are experiencing their monthly menstrual cycles that are suffering, it's women who have just given birth as well.

Postpartum women are instructed to keep good hygiene by changing their sanitary pad 4 or more times a day, using a squirt bottle after using the bathroom, and soak in a bath to aid with wound cleaning. Women who have just given birth are at a much higher risk for infection of their uterus if they contract common vaginal infections that can be the result of a lack of sanitary items.

"We're suffering from being hungry, from being thirsty, from being bombed. We're suffering from being displaced. Now we are suffering also because there are no pads. It's just a new suffering," Owda said.

When Owda interviewed Nour, a young woman living in Gaza about the lack of menstrual products, Nour explains, "many young women are grappling with this challenge, resorting to alternatives such as tissues or scraps of cloth, all of which are unhygienic. The cloth requires regular washing, cleaning and changing."

A local doctor reveals to Owda, "each day we encounter numerous instances of fever, directly linked to vaginal yeast infections arising from inadequate hygiene and the absence of feminine hygiene products. Sanitary pads can't be found anywhere."

The situation is dire and medical doctors in the region are expressing the danger that comes with lack of access to this critical sanitary supply.

"It's extremely dangerous because we're talking about hygiene. When a woman is in good health, maintains cleanliness, and has access to fundamental necessities, it significantly contributes to the baby's well-being. Cleanliness is crucial for ensuring the health of both mother and baby. The lack of feminine hygiene products is not only a matter of health but also brings about a sense of humiliation," another doctor explains to Owda.

After sharing about the struggles women are facing in Gaza, Egyptian Cure Bank, a hospital in Egypt has begun accepting donations to send medical supplies to Gaza, which include feminine hygiene products. Even though people are in imminent danger, they're still people so women will continue to need sanitary pads and babies will continue to need diapers. Hopefully more shipments of these imperative supplies will make it to the people that need it most because all people that have periods deserve dignity while managing it.


Dad takes 7-week paternity leave after his second child is born and is stunned by the results

"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."


There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.

All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”

This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

The time off changed Remington’s entire outlook on parenting, and his insights are something all parents could probably use.

Keep ReadingShow less

Millenial names are now "old" names.

You can’t turn back the hands of time and so it’s impossible to avoid being labeled “old” by younger generations, no matter how hard you try. For many of us, our names are tied to the times when we were born and can start to sound really dated, no matter how fashionable they were at one point.

TikTokker Amber Cimotti found this out the hard way when her daughter noted that she has an “old” person's name.

“My daughter told me the name Ashley or Amanda — or my name is Amber — are like old people names and I never thought about it this way,” Amber explained in a video with over 3 million views.

Keep ReadingShow less

Christine Kesteloo has one big problem living on a cruise ship.

A lot of folks would love to trade lives with Christine Kesteloo. Her husband is the Chief Engineer on a cruise ship, so she gets to live on the boat pretty much for free as the “wife on board.” For Christine, life is a lot like living on a permanent vacation.

“I live on a cruise ship for half the year with my husband, and it's often as glamorous as it sounds,” she told Insider. “After all, I don't cook, clean, make my bed, do laundry or pay for food.“

Living an all-inclusive lifestyle seems like paradise, but it has some drawbacks. Having access to all-you-can-eat food all day long can really have an effect on one’s waistline. Kesteloo admits that living on a cruise ship takes a lot of self-discipline because the temptation is always right under her nose.

Keep ReadingShow less

Woman shows her misbehaving cat to 'the trenches'

You always hear about a "bad dog," giving the furry goofballs a reputation for getting into mischief, but what about bad cats. Not all cats are angels just lounging around the house until someone gives them food while fanning them with a giant palm leaf. Some cats have a sketchy "catigree" and every once in a while they let that wild streak show. When that happens, what is a cat owner to do?

A cat mom that goes by the user name Lambo Licia on Instagram posted a video showing exactly how she gets her cat in line when he's misbehaving. No, it's not with a spray bottle. She shows him what life is like in "the trenches." You know, the area of town where homeless cats roam and cat burglars have real whiskers and thumbs that don't work, leaving a strange fish smell wherever they lurk.

If Scared Straight: Cat Edition was an actual thing, Mega, the orange tabby would be the first to turn his life around. He looks absolutely petrified from all of the unruly cat behavior he sees out the window and his mom's commentary.

Keep ReadingShow less

College students use AI to decode ancient scroll burned in Mount Vesuvius

“Some of these texts could completely rewrite the history of key periods of the ancient world."

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E., it buried entire cities in volcanic materials. While Pompeii is the most famous site affected by the natural disaster, the nearby villa of Herculaneum was also laid to waste—including over 800 precious scrolls found inside Herculaneum’s library, which were carbonized by the heat, making them impossible to open and recover their contents.

Which brings us to the Vesuvius challenge, started by computer scientist Brent Seales and entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross in March 2023. The contest would award $1 million in prizes to whoever could use machine learning to successfully read from the scrolls without damaging them.

On February 5, the prize-winning team was announced.
Keep ReadingShow less
Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Shaquille O'Neal retired from pro basketball in 2011, but he's still one of the most famous players ever.

Fame comes with a lot of challenges, but it also comes with some pretty obvious perks. There's the money that frequently follows fame, of course, but there's also the special treatment people automatically offer you.

Some famous folks might revel in that special treatment and some might even express gratitude for it. But occasionally, you find a celebrity who refuses it altogether.

Take basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, for instance.

Keep ReadingShow less