2014 FEP Project On April 10th 2014, WHOI launched FEP (the Fistula and Empowerment Program) for young Black women living in Halifax. The program currently has ten participants who meet every Thursday for two hours to partake in obstetric fistula awareness training and to self-empower through discussion, film, workshops, and other activities that address issues such as mental and sexual health, shadeism, the use of misogynistic language in schools, and issues of cultural displacement and a sense of belonging in Canadian society. The program’s innovative approach means that participants identify their own health concerns and decide upon the fashion in which they would like to address them.

The FEP intends to produce a short film production that reflects the participants’ experiences with various forms of oppression that impact negatively upon their health. In the film, the participants will express the frustrations that arise from the constant, mundane micro-aggressions of racism and sexism directed towards them as Black women.

FEP womenAnatomy o Fistula

The film will also integrate dance and spoken word performances alongside the articulation of experiences of stigma the participants have had with the creative expression of their cultures through dance and spoken word.

The project will create an artistic rendering of the participants’ health-related experiences and concerns through film. In addition to dance and spoken word, soliloquy and dialogue will be employed as artistic mechanisms by which the participants will convey their message. Footage from the weekly FEP sessions will be incorporated in the film to portray how the young women have been self-empowering through health care education and programming.

The project will be a platform for self-empowerment for the participants. By actively engaging the young women in the planning and execution of the film, they will become aware of the power of language in articulating the common, however devastating, experiences they have with various forms of oppression. The project will offer the young women catharsis as they creatively expel their frustrations. Furthermore, it will serve as a tool of empowerment as they give voice to their experiences of oppression and the repercussions for their health. Finally, the project will bring the involvement of the young women in the FEP program to the attention of the wider Canadian community and engage the community as allies to help overcome the barriers Black women face in having optimal health.