when you look down and see red

Illustration by Kimmy Elliot, @linesbyher

Illustration by Kimmy Elliot, @linesbyher

In honour of International Women’s Day, my co-producer Shahd Bani Odeh and I asked 20 Arab women from around the world to share stories (via Whataspp) about their first period and how it influences the way they view their bodies today. Below, you can listen to the documentary and read a ‘behind-the-scenes’ note about the episode.

‘Break the Cycle’ is a short audio documentary produced by Darah Ghanem and Shahd Bani Odeh for Kerning Cultures, a podcast that produces audio documentaries from the Middle East. Song credit: “JASADIK-HOM (Your Body of Theirs)” by DAM, sampled at the end of this episode.

Producer’s Note:

I first met Shahd after she produced Her Side of the Story, a Kerning Cultures episode highlighting the stigma surrounding divorced women in the Arab world. I remember discussing our shared views on feminism and since then, we’ve had countless conversations about the power of storytelling. So, it made sense to co-produce a story honoring International Women’s Day.

The idea for this episode came via Whatsapp. Shahd sent a voice note along the lines of: “Darah, International Women’s Day is coming up! We have to do something!” Of course I replied with an enthusiastic “yes!”, so we began brainstorming. What could we put together in less than three weeks that gave women a platform to share their stories? After some deliberating the KC team, it was decided: we were going to tackle a universal taboo, menstruation, by collecting Whatsapp voice notes from Arab women around the world.

In a matter of one week, we collected over 15 interviews, 35 audio files and countless Whatsapp messages. The number of women who disclosed the most intimate details about their bodies, from periods to body hair, stunned us. But so did their stories of resilience and empowerment - how they took it upon themselves to challenge society. This episode was created to recognize these stories.

We want to thank every woman who shared her story with us - producing this episode has been an honor. We also want to thank the KC Team for their trust, support and for the opportunity to truly celebrate Arab women.