IGAD! International Gynae Awareness Day

Gynae Awareness Information NetworkI’m disappointed I missed it this year: International Gynae Awareness Day (and week) was on September 10. It aims primarily to encourage the breaking down of entrenched social, and cultural taboos, still surrounding most things ‘gynaecological’.

It was founded by Kath Mazella, who 15 years ago endured radical surgery to overcome vulval cancer; she had her vulva and clitoris removed to save her life. She’s now working to make sure this doesn’t have to happen to other women.


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Now I considered myself to be fairly well informed about sexual health matters so I’m amazed I’d never heard of vulval cancer. And to be honest, it scares the crap out of me. Cervical cancer, ovarian cancer… we all know about those. But this? Losing your clit? That’s fucking dreadful! How do we check for this? Do doctors even know anything about it?

Thankfully, the GAIN site has information here.

One of the things Kath campaigns on is the correct usage of the word “vulva” to describe the female genitals. She, like me, is sick of people calling it the vagina.

Even today, we find it difficult to talk about our genitalia, and to use the correct name for these precious parts of our own bodies. The founder of GAIN – Kath Mazzella, a survivor of vulval cancer was surprised, then angry, and finally frustrated, to continually hear many, many women, the world over, refer to their “vulva” as their “vagina”!

Shockingly, Kath has even been told by government funding agencies to tone down her language because the word “vulva” is pornographic. “Vagina”, however, is OK. Can you believe the nonsense some people perpetuate?

In any case, this post is a plug for Kath and her good work. And also to show off that spectacular logo: isn’t it cute?

One Reply to “IGAD! International Gynae Awareness Day”

  1. International Gynaecological Awareness Day, IGAD, is being celebrated in Canberra this year with an art photography exhibition by Margaret Kalms and Spellbound belly dancing!
    Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT), a leading provider of integrated reproductive and sexual health services, is proud to be supporting the inaugural celebration of IGAD in Canberra, by hosting a cocktail party and art exhibition opening at 7:30pm, 10th September at SHFPACT, in Canberra.
    “We understand the purpose of the day is to create greater public awareness of the body and to improve the understanding of health practitioners, family and friends of women with gynaecological problems, so that women can be better supported,” SHFPACT Executive Director, Tim Bavinton said.
    SHFPACT is working with local artist, Margaret Kalms, who uses her art to explore issues in menstruation and body image. She has participated in many exhibitions, solo and group, in Canberra and interstate.
    “Cooperating with SHFPACT provides another way for me to contribute to improving sexual health and wellbeing of women,” says Margaret. During previous exhibitions Margaret has generously donated a part of her sales to endometriosis research and UN women Australia. During this exhibition she will donate to SHFPACT and endometriosis research.
    Margaret’s art is challenging because of the sensitive nature of the topic she explores. Her images are symbolic and reflective, expressing what menstruation means and feels like. Many of her photos are nude, but they are not designed to meet men’s fantasies. Clothing is a product of a particular culture and time. Nude bodies reduce the cultural distractions permitting the model to represent the universality of all women.
    It is Margaret’s aim that her photos generate discussion about intimate health and body issues that are still often hidden or considered embarrassing. A preview of her work can be seen on her website .
    The event will be opened by Professor Frank Bowden, Director of the Canberra Sexual Health Centre and Professor of Medicine at the ANU Medical School at 7:30pm. He has recently published a book about diseases, Gone Viral – The germs that share our lives. Prof Bowden is a story teller and describes many dramas associated with germs. Many of these stories have important health messages, and he includes sexually transmitted diseases. He cares about his patients especially those who are disadvantaged.
    Katy Gallagher said at the book launch, “I enjoyed this book enormously. It was a rollercoaster ride from chapter to chapter as I laughed at the funny bits, chocked up at the sad and as my heart raced with my newly acquired knowledge about things it’s probably best I know nothing about. This book is inspirational reading.”
    The guests will be entertained by Spellbound belly dancers. These dancers are excited about promoting women’s health and have participated at fundraiser events before. The dancers are energetic, mesmerising and a delight to watch.
    Guests will be offered drinks and nibbles.
    Join the celebrations at SHFPACT, 1/28 University Ave, Canberra City, for the inaugural IGAD Saturday, 10th September, starting at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 and available at the SHFPACT office, 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday to Friday, (02) 6247 3077.
    The exhibition will run for two weeks until 23 September.

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