‘Sister2Sister’ Safe Space Virtual Chats Empower Women

Feeling Empowered!

THE HERStoire Collective is a group of individuals who champion women and girls’ advancement, sexual and reproductive rights, health and wellness, with a focus on empowerment, and education. HERStoire was founded in the United States in 2016, by Saint Lucian Researcher and Sexual Reproductive Health Specialist, Dr. Su-Anne Robyn Charlery White. The Saint Lucia chapter was established in 2017.

Feeling Empowered!In March 2018, the HERStoire Collective launched their latest project, the Sister2Sister Safe Space Programme, an undertaking intended to bridge the gap between sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and initiatives to young women, particularly those who are marginalized, or part of vulnerable groups. The programme funded through a grant from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) aims to enhance the scope of SRH services through access to resources, with a priority on other outreach efforts.

The Sister2Sister Safe Space Chat, one of the programme’s main components, encompasses a virtual support group forum for young women in Saint Lucia, particularly those who would rather access sexual and reproductive health information and services anonymously or online. March 21 and April 4, respectively, marked the first and second Virtual Safe Space Chats, and from all accounts, both were a huge success. Scores of women logged onto the chat taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions openly and share personal experiences in the hopes of learning to better prioritise their reproductive health.

The topic for chat number one was Endometriosis, and queries revolved around coping with endometriosis, the stages of the progressive condition, and how to best manage it. The chat blasted through the realities of living with endometriosis and touched on other issues affecting sexual and reproductive health. During the proceedings, one participant struggling with the management of a chronic condition, received encouragement from an on-hand doctor monitoring the chat, with an offer of help in the management of her condition.

“Our goal is to provide a judgement free safe space where young women can feel comfortable sharing personal stories, receive sexual and reproductive health information, and access much needed resources,” the HERStoire’s Sister 2 Sister Safe Space Programme PR & Communications Coordinator Kayra Williams stated.

“With assistance from our partners, which include health experts, we provide evidence-based research to educate and inform, while using our stories to enlighten, heal and inspire one another.”

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month observed in April, the second chat focussed on the topic of Consent, with the hashtag #ConsentIsSexy propelling heated discussion. There was power indeed in sharing personal stories and experiences.

The second virtual space saw participants, previously strangers, connecting on a level of empathy, compassion and understanding. Participants discussed the various ways consent could be communicated or misunderstood in intimate scenarios, and how best to safety navigate these situations in their own lives.

HERStoire is encouraging all women to participate in the next Safe Space Virtual Chat, which is expected to be even more engaging and enlightening. Topics for upcoming chats will be released via the HERStoire’s social media channels!

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