Taboos and stigmas have been a part of our society since forever. Ignorance plays a major part in the installation of these norms. Some people have been fighting them internally or behind closed doors. But not anymore!
See how some of these taboos are broken in public and have created inspiration around the globe to break free and be louder.
While six billion people worldwide have mobile phones, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation, according to UN figures. In addition, 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open.
With its first official observance of World Toilet Day, the United Nations today called on the international community to help break taboos around toilets, which are still out of reach to more than one-third of the global population and make sanitation a global development priority.
"Despite the compelling moral and economic case for action on sanitation, progress has been too little and too slow," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, noting that sanitation is central to human and environmental health, and essential for sustainable development, dignity and opportunity.
Of the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals, the sanitation target is the most off-track with more than 80 per cent of countries being behind in the national targets that they set.
THINX is the first and only brand of period-proof underwear (ads for which they were almost banned from the New York subway last month). Miki Agrawal of THINX, keeps talking about unpopular issues until an actual change happens. "If people are embarrassed to talk about it, I'll talk to them about it until it's not weird anymore."
THINX, her underwear brand, isn't just about providing women with a practical and long-overdue product, it's about sparking conversation. But first, here's what she's selling: four styles of cute panties (ranging from hip-huggers to thongs) which look like normal briefs but are absorbent, leak-resistant, moisture-wicking and antimicrobial. "I"ve spent three and a half years of my life patenting this technology for women so they can manage their periods better," Miki says, forcefully. The idea is to avoid embarrassment caused by spills, yes, but the bigger goal is to give women mental freedom: "Women are way more willing to talk about their former period problems when they are no longer problems."
As a young woman, Dan was sent off to June Dally-Watkins finishing school for 12 months to learn how to be a lady.
It was never going to work.
Dan, now 44, always knew he had been assigned the wrong gender at birth. The Bulli man lived for more than four decades with that knowledge but almost 12 months after starting the gender-affirming hormone treatment he's now living the life he always wanted.
The decision to transition was not easy, but once he'd made it, he felt "completely free''.
His parents are supportive, and doing their best to understand it, as are his siblings. Friends and colleagues were great.
"Once you start to be true to yourself and live without the mask, people come along with you - so never underestimate people's ability to be awesome and accepting.'
Hanne Gaby Odiele, 29, was born with undescended testicles, which were removed when she was 10 after doctors warned that they could cause cancer.
Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.
According to the United Nations, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world's population.
Ms. Odiele, originally from Belgium, was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS).
At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this."
At 10, Ms. Odiele had surgery to remove her testes.
"I knew at one point after the surgery I could not have kids, I was not having my period. I knew something was wrong with me," she said.
She had an additional surgery at 18 to reconstruct her vagina.
But she said the procedures caused her distress and she wanted to speak out in part to discourage other parents from putting their children through a perhaps unnecessary surgery.
Mental Illness ranks among the most critical health problems in the global burden of disease, and the stigma associated with it is reported to be at the center of both individual (e.g., low service use, hindered progress toward recovery) and system problems (e.g., inadequate funding of research and treatment infrastructures).
Selena Gomez opened up about her experience with mental health issues in an acceptance speech last night (Nov. 20) at the American Music Awards.
"I was absolutely broken inside," Gomez said when she accepted her award for Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock. "If you are broken, you don't have to stay broken."
Not only does stigma negatively impact individuals in need of HIV services, but it impacts the uptake of free HIV services, prevents people from being tested for HIV, and inhibits honest dialogue between people living with HIV and their care providers. In many countries where we work, specific groups such as gender and sexual minorities face outright discrimination, rooted in policy, politics and social norms.
MTV Shuga is a sizzling sex and relationship drama and multimedia campaign for young audiences, which aims to raise awareness of HIV and Aids globally.
The issue of complacency around HIV in the UK (and elsewhere) is a huge issue. Young people, in particular, think that 'HIV doesn't exist anymore' or 'I can just take one pill, and it's cured,' and because of this attitude, it means that unsafe sex isn't a concern for them. We need to talk about HIV much more than we do. It needs to start in the classroom, at home, and with friends. Shows like these are helping to drive these conversations.
According to the UK Department of Health, as many as 150,000 Irish women have traveled to Great Britain for abortions since the 1980s. This breaks down to an average of 12 women per day. These statistics don't include women who gave false addresses or went to other countries.
"We want to open up a conversation about abortion between ordinary people on an everyday level," says Julie Morrissy, one of the founders of the X-ile site. She considers most Irish politicians unwilling to enter into that conversation at all.
"There's a massive stigma surrounding abortions here. It's a normal procedure, yet when you say you've had one, people try to keep you quiet and keep it hidden," Jennifer says. "There's very little support here for women and it's so brushed over. You don't know where to turn."
Activist Julie Morrissy says she's working to change that, one picture at a time.
"We want people to confront abortion experiences and talk about them, and for it not to be a taboo in daily life - for women to be able to talk about this experience of having been sent away for a medical procedure," she says.