by Danielle Gambogi
Sara Liza Baumann is a program officer and researcher in public health and international development, with research interests in women’s health, gender, sexuality, WASH and menstrual hygiene management. While studying at the University of Michigan, Sara discovered her passion for addressing social justice issues using research and the arts. She went on to complete a Fulbright Fellowship, her Masters in International Public Health, and has completed research studies in topics surrounding gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS and international development.
In 2010, Sara founded a film company, Old Fan Films, that specializes in film communication material, advocacy film pieces, documentaries and visual anthropology. Sara is determined to combine her love for film, media and the arts with sound research, to tackle world issues that matter most. Her documentary work has recently been featured at the Smithsonian Institute, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum & United Nations in New York, and more.
Below is a sample of her work, a film entitled, “Managing Menstruation in Bangladesh”.
Whether a girl lives in South America, Africa, Europe or Asia, she will transition through a natural experience, that of menstruation, that often signifies a shift from childhood to adulthood. Depending on the culture, menstruation may be of differing significance, however menstruation is a biological event that girls and women around the world share.
Many girls living in different cultural settings around the world share some sense of embarrassment around the experience of menstruation. In order to adequately prepare girls for their first menstruation, there is a need to better understand how girls manage their menstruation in environments that may pose challenges to their comfort and safety. Setting out with the goal of increasing understanding of how young girls manage menstruation in resource-poor settings, we traveled to a school in Mymensingh, Bangladesh to gather perspectives from adolescent girls themselves about their experiences of menstruation through the an exploratory film study. The goal of the film was to gather information on experiences of adolescent girls to inform future interventions, but it was also created to bring about awareness on the issue of menstruation. By using visual methods, and bringing the results together in a clear and conscience manner, the aim was to share on a variety of outlets to promote the need for more research on the topic of menstruation and its impacts on women’s health, education and development.
We conducted an exploratory film study in Mymensingh, Bangladesh.Bangladesh is a small, densely populated country of more than 156 million people, bordered by India and the Bay of Bengal. The population is predominantly Muslim. The city of Mymensingh is located in central Bangladesh on the Brahmaputra river. The area where the film was shot was outside of the city center, in a rural setting.
For the film, seven interviews were conducted with adolescent girl students, aged 10-16, who attend public schools (pre- and post-menarche) in Bangladesh, their teachers, as well as youth club leaders, who were also adolescent girls.