176 million strong, rising up as one!
Who are all these women, and why will they be marching, you ask?
Well, it is a fact that over 176 million women around the world suffer from the debilitating, disabling and painful disease that is endometriosis.
So, on Thursday, March 13, 2014, women in more than 53 cities globally – including Kingston – will march to raise awareness of the disease. In Jamaica, Shauna Fuller Clarke’s B.A.S.E. Foundation is spearheading the march (B.A.S.E. stands for Better Awareness & Support for Endometriosis). “After eight years of having symptoms of endometriosis, a collapsed lung, misdiagnosis and three surgeries, I was finally diagnosed in 2010 with Stage IV endometriosis,” says Ms. Fuller Clarke, who co-founded B.A.S.E. Foundation with her husband Ricardo Clarke and mother Sonia Fuller. By the way, this is the average length of time for it to be correctly diagnosed in other countries, too. Jamaica is no different from elsewhere. And no cure has yet been found.
OK. Here is the information you need on the Million Woman March in Jamaica:
- On March 13, the march will depart Devon House at 11:00 a.m. for Emancipation Park. It’s approx. one mile; even I can manage that. We will be accompanied by a marching band. Her Excellency the Most Honorable Lady Allen will join the march.
- There will be a rally and concert in Emancipation Park over the lunchtime period. Do drop by during your lunch hour.
- The event will be streamed live and/or recorded and played later at the march in Washington, DC.
- Wear yellow! Even if you are unable to join the march, wear yellow in support. I believe there may be T-shirts…
- Men are of course welcome! We need the support of our husbands, partners, fathers, brothers, friends…
- Registration is open now: go to http://www.basejamaica.com. Encourage your friends to join you!
The march is not just about making more people aware of the disease. The B.A.S.E. Foundation has specific goals. Firstly, it is lobbying the Jamaican Government to list endometriosis as a chronic disease under the National Health Fund, thus allowing for cheaper drugs; and wants the Ministry of Health to set up an office dedicated to the disease, with the aim of improving research and treatment for sufferers. B.A.S.E. is also seeking the assistance of the Ministries of Health and Education to start a nationwide screening program in schools. It is demanding much greater focus in medical and nursing schools, educating health professionals at all levels on the disease. It is also asking for greater media support in a heightened public education campaign; and is asking the private sector to support researchers to develop non-invasive tests and move towards finding a cure for endometriosis.
During March (Endometriosis Awareness Month) there will also be a church service at the New Testament Church of God, 65 Waltham Park Road, Kingston 11 at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 2; a Public Forum at the Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit, University Hospital of the West Indies at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20; and an online chat on the B.A.S.E. at 12:00 noon on Friday, March 28.
The event also has some great Ambassadors: Krystal Tomlinson is a youth leader, research assistant at the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of the West Indies and Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2013. Molly Rhone is currently president of the International Federation of Netball Associations and former head of the Jamaica Netball Association. Gina Hargitay is the reigning Miss Jamaica World. Juliet Cuthbert is a businesswoman and former sprinter and Olympic medallist. Mario Evon is a soulful singer and graduate of Berklee College of Music. Dr. Terri-Karelle Reid is a qualified veterinarian, former Miss Jamaica World and online brand manager at the Gleaner Company.
Described as one of the ten most painful diseases, endometriosis affects an estimated one in eight women and girls. And yet, many Jamaicans have never heard of this disease. Why is this so? Partly because in Jamaica (and many other societies) we don’t talk openly about issues such as infertility (a common impact of endometriosis). We don’t talk about women’s organs, or menstrual periods. Lady Allen calls it a “silent disease,” a bit like high blood pressure. And it is often misdiagnosed or dismissed as “bad periods,” which creates problems for teens in particular.
Support thousands of young girls and women in Jamaica who live with endometriosis and other pelvic conditions on March 13, 2014. And if you know someone who is suffering, please help them to get help. Don’t let them suffer in silence.
To learn more about the work of the B.A.S.E. Foundation, go to “Shauna Fuller Clarke’s BASE Foundation” Facebook page. Website: http://www.basejamaica.com. Follow on Twitter: @basejamaica. For information on the worldwide campaign, go to: http://www.millionwomenmarch2014.org/
Shauna’s sponsors are: EU Delegation; Kingston Bookshop; Guardian Group; Nationwide 90 FM; Lifespan Spring Water; Jamaica Observer; Shipwize.
Partners: Newstalk 93 FM; Zoukie Trucking; SunCity Radio; TVJ. Endorsed by the Ministry of Health.