In March, Bec Broadbent travelled almost 7,000 kilometres to deliver health education to the young women and girls working as tea pickers in Colombo and Hatton, Sri Lanka.
“These are women who can’t afford to take a day off work to do something for themselves. While there are limited health services available to them, they’re not practically accessible,” Bec said.
“So when it comes to knowledge around sexual health, contraception, the menstrual cycle or women’s health in general, there’s a huge gap. These are topics that haven’t been taught in schools or talked about amongst family members as they’re considered taboo.”
A Registered Nurse and Midwife, Bec has always had a keen interest in women’s health and using education as a tool for empowerment.
“With knowledge comes power and control. When women have better knowledge about their bodies, they can make better decisions for themselves and their families,” she said.
“Seeing these women and girls develop a better understanding of their bodies and the confidence to ask questions was so rewarding.”
In the next 12 months, Bec hopes to return to Sri Lanka. Going forward, she said it would be about training more local women to deliver health education.
“It would be great to see the education rolled out in Sri Lanka in a culturally appropriate and sustainable way,” she said.
“Empowered and educated women have a really positive impact on not just themselves but their families and can ultimately provide better support for the men in their communities.”
Thanks to this experience, Bec said her passion for being a nurse has been renewed, as she hopes to continue her work in advocating for vulnerable people – both locally and internationally.
“Visiting a developing country has given me a greater understanding of where some of [my colleagues] have come from and the environment they may have worked in as nurses.
“I have a new perspective on how to provide support as a nursing leader, particularly when it comes to ensuring a smooth transition for those moving to Bendigo,” she said.
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