And meet the activist breaking generations of stigma around menstruation in Nepal
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18 July 2019 | Volume 2, Issue 2
  A note from our editor:
A Pakistani illustrator using her art to challenge stereotypes about Muslim women. Photos of a 16-year-old student from Nepal rowing across a lake to get to school every day. Diary entries from a week in the life of a 15-year-old in Lebanon.

Filled with articles, essays, stories, photos and illustrations published during our first year, Assembly’s special print edition shows what makes this platform truly unique. It’s a place where girls from Brazil, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saint Kitts and beyond can talk about their accomplishments, struggles and hopes for the future.

Assembly is built on the strength and passion of this community. Which is why we’re giving you the opportunity to share your love for Assembly with friends, classmates, team members or whoever else you think would be inspired by the stories we publish.

Tell us why you’re one of Assembly’s most dedicated readers and you could be selected to receive your very own copy of the print issue — plus a few extras to share with friends and classmates.

We’re excited to share this special print edition with you!


16-year-old filmmaker documents history of first Senegalese village to abandon female genital cutting and child marriage
Female genital cutting
  By Omolara Uthman
When 16-year-old Ndèye Fatou Fall is not in school, she enjoys playing soccer and basketball, or practising for her village’s next theatre performance. If she had been born a decade earlier, however, she would not be able to enjoy these freedoms.

Twenty years ago, child marriage and female genital cutting (FGC) — a harmful practice that can cause bleeding, infections and even death in young women — were widespread in Ndèye Fatou’s community of Keur Simbara, located in western Senegal. Demba Diawara, a village leader and Ndèye Fatou’s grandfather, educated hundreds of communities — including Keur Simbara — on the benefits of ending these practices. Thanks to his work and others in the community, Ndèye Fatou is able to go to school, pursue her passions and even direct her own film.

With the organisation BYkids, Ndèye Fatou created the documentary, “Walk on My Own,” which looks at the history of FGC and child marriage in Keur Simbara. Ndèye Fatou interviews mothers and community elders, and shows viewers how the community has changed since they took this important step for women and girls. Keur Simbara is now more peaceful and its female villagers have the freedom to complete their education and hold careers of their choosing.

I spoke with Ndèye Fatou to discuss her film, “Walk on My Own,” the strides that have been made in her own village of Keur Simbara and her vision for Senegal’s future.

Omolara Uthman (OU): Tell me about making “Walk on My Own.” What part of the process of making the documentary did you enjoy the most and what was the hardest part?
Ndèye Fatou Fall (NFF):
What I loved the most about making the film “Walk on My Own” was the interview I did with my grandfather, Demba Diawara, who is our village leader. He explained things to me that happened in our village before I was born. Baay Demba opened his heart to me and told me so many things — especially about the tradition [female genital cutting] and child marriage that were practiced here in Keur Simbara. You know I would never have dared to question him as I did because in our culture, a young girl doesn’t ask such questions to an elder. In fact, I had never before asked questions like this to other elders in the community — you just didn’t do it. I learned so much from Baay Demba who opened doors to new learning for me. I realized how important it is to understand the past and I was proud of the role he played in ending these harmful practices in so many communities.

Read more.
This Moment in History
Celebrating Kadambini Ganguly, one of the first female university graduates and physicians in India
Kadambini Ganguly
July 18, 1861 — October 3, 1923

Kadambini Ganguly was born on July 18, 1861 in Bhagalpur, India. Her father was a school headmaster and advocate for gender equality — he helped champion his daughter’s right to learn. After challenging universities’ admissions policies that excluded women, Kadambini became one of the first female university graduates and physicians in India.

Kadambini wanted to help other women achieve their full potential. She played a major role in India’s women’s rights movement, representing the first female delegation at the 1889 Indian National Congress.
Career spotlight
Breaking generations of stigma around menstruation in Nepal
Menstruation stigma in Nepal
By Shibu Shrestha
Walking through Bidur municipality in the hills of central Nepal, one can see life being put back together. Some areas still have scars of devastation from the 2015 earthquake, while others show signs of rising from the rubble. In the heart of Bidur, there are small bustling markets, fruit vendors, vehicles and people rushing around. An hour drive away from the city center, one sees little tin houses, sheds for cows and goats, no proper roads and people getting on with their lives.

For girls living in this vibrant community, one of the greatest challenges they face is something they can’t control — menstruation. Instead of being celebrated as a natural process, girls and women in Bidur who are menstruating are labeled as “nachuni,” meaning untouchable. While on their periods, they aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen or cook for themselves, they can’t touch male members of their families and they are prohibited from participating in religious ceremonies.

Going to school in Bidur presents even more hurdles. Bathrooms don’t have proper toilets, water supply or dustbins. Some girls must carry their used sanitary pads back home to dispose of them. Students find it difficult to openly talk to teachers about menstruation. Because of all these challenges, girls often miss four days of classes a month, ultimately affecting their education and overall school performance.
Reader spotlight 
Menstruation stigma in Nepal

Meet Regina Martín and her class of 15-year-olds from Madrid, Spain. During the school year, her students read Assembly and also wrote essays about inspiring women from their community, including a gender-based violence advocate named Melanie and a Spanish Civil War survivor named Benedicta.

We love meeting our readers and hearing from members of our community. Tell us about yourself or about your ideas for Assembly using our submission form — and you could be featured in a future issue!

Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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