NATALIA VODIANOVA WELCOMES GLOBAL SUPERMODELS TO TACKLE TABOOS AROUND WOMEN’S HEALTH AT UNFPA BACKED “LET’S TALK” EVENT
22nd October 2018: Global fashion icons and activists Adwoa Aboah and Anja Rubik will join supermodel, philanthropist, campaigner and host of the Let’s Talk! event, Natalia Vodianova on 25th – 26th October at the Maxx Royal Resorts Kemer in Antalya, Turkey, as part of an ambitious new global initiative launched to end the stigma and taboos around women’s health by providing a crucial podium for discussion and innovation.
British activist and model Adwoa Aboah, who co-founded the online community for young women, Gurls Talk, will host a panel on young people’s perspectives on stigma around mental health. The panel will delve into the mind-set 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.
“I am so proud to be bringing the Gurls Talk panel to the Let’s Talk event to unite two powerful movements. The taboo’s and stigmas surrounding mental health are rife in every corner of the globe and will forever remain so unless we utilise the crucial platform provided by this event to address the issues.
Nothing is taboo at Gurls Talk, and we are comprised of a beautifully diverse mixture of people from across the world. We are so excited to be able to share and learn of new solutions to tackle the mental health taboo at ‘Let’s Talk’ in Antalya!”
Polish model, activist, philanthropist and businesswoman Anja Rubik is considered to be one of the most successful models of the mid-2000s to present. She will be speaking on a Panel looking at the role of governments and the civil society in changing perceptions around women’s health, hosted by Dayle Haddon, CEO of Women One and advisor on gender to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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.
I think an event like this is so powerful. It gives us the opportunity to develop a new era of awareness and attitudes towards women’s health, inspiring others to make the topic increasingly current and accessible. This is the platform we needed to yrun thoughts into results.”
Other speakers from the fashion industry include Burak Cakmak, Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York, who has advised brands such as Stella McCartney on their sustainability strategy. Burak will be speaking on a Panel examining the role and responsibility of the media and private sector in creating awareness, breaking down stigma, and shaping perceptions on what it means to be a woman around the world.
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 stigmatised.
Speaking ahead of the 2018 “Let’s Talk!” event, Elbi founder Natalia Vodianova said: “Growing up in the Soviet Union, sex and periods were almost unthinkable subjects. I never went to see a gynaecologist before I became pregnant, in fact I didn’t even know what one was. When I hit puberty and my breasts began to grow, on faster than the other, I thought I was dying of cancer – I was that unaware of the female body.
I also faced a number of challenges growing up with a disabled half-sister. Oksana was a resuscitated stillborn with severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism. At the time, my society simply didn’t do disabilities and disabled children were often marginalised beyond belief. My family and I faced a torrid amount of abuse which was incredibly testing.
Now I want to make a stand and see that women around the world are empowered to enjoy the human right to health and education.”
The two day event will also celebrate and support the people and companies who are at the forefront of changing social norms based on rights, equality and inclusiveness. Let’s Talk! is powered by Natalia Vodianova’s digital charitable giving platform ELBI, and will be held in partnership with UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency. The event will take place with the support of partners including Turkish Airlines, Maxx Royal Resorts and the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
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