Although engaging in open communication about sexual health is still taboo throughout Middle Eastern societies today, one young woman has been brave enough to try to break that norm. Nour Emam, founder and creator of the platform Mother Being, has had a longtime interest in women's health issues and decided to quit her career in music and pursue her real passion.
During the birth of her daughter, Emam underwent a medically unnecessary C-section and was separated from her daughter for a while. It was a very difficult experience which left her feeling helpless. Following the birth, Emam suffered from postpartum depression and mild PTSD, which went undiagnosed for eight months.
In an attempt to help herself overcome that painful experience, she created Mother Being, an educational platform focused on providing women with information on their bodies, sexual health and the many misconceptions surrounding it.
However, before creating her platform in January 2020, Emam joined a five-month online doula training program from Canada, one of the hardest and longest in the field, followed by another training program in managing postpartum depression from a British university.
"Two years ago, I decided to get pregnant. I thought it would be easy, like we see in the movies, but I quickly realised that planning a pregnancy takes a lot of work," Emam explained on her Facebook page.
"I discovered that my body and my cycle are much more complex than I thought, and that I almost didn’t know my body at all. So, I had to get to know my cycle from scratch and I wished that someone had taught me this when I was younger," she said.
Emam decided to make it her personal mission to educate women about their cycles and their reproductive health, so she started to study and learn.
However, the most important part for Emam was to make this knowledge accessible in Arabic to every Arabic-speaking woman in the world. Emam is now a certified maternal support practitioner (doula) and certified relationship and sex educator.
"Our culture obviously will not allow women to speak with their families about sexual and reproductive health, and as a result a lot of women grow up not even knowing about their own reproductive system and how it works," one of Emam's followers wrote in a comment.
"Emam is tearing down taboos to bring women accurate information about sexual and reproductive health," she added.
In addition to easily accessible online content, Mother Being also provides courses created by Emam on topics such as 'Periods, Mastering your cycle', 'The birth crash course' and 'Pleasure principles: sex re-imagined'.
"I highly recommend the ‘Periods’ class to any woman, married or not. I was shocked at how little we are taught at school or told by our doctors about our bodies and cycles. The class was full of information about periods, PMS, birth control and so much more. Emam creates a fun, light and safe space where she answers questions many of us have and are uncomfortable to ask or can't find the answers to."
The platform also offers the 'Monthly women circle', a female-only open discussions about women's reproductive and sexual health issues. Each month a different topic related to womanhood is chosen, based on requests, and then scientifically discussed.
Sadly, Emam and her page face stigma for even talking about these issues. She was even accused by a few of encouraging promiscuity and ignoring religion.
"As a culture, we have a hard time separating religion from fact. I think it's time for this separation to take place in society. These critics don’t understand that I am not encouraging anyone to act against his or her religious belief. I simply provide information and it is up to you whether you explore it and learn more about it for yourself. I don’t say virginity doesn’t matter, I say hymens don’t matter, and yes, there is a big difference," Emam explained in one of her videos.
However, Emam does not seem bothered by her detractors.
"The growing number of people interested in challenging the status quo, who do not accept being in the dark, compel me to persevere. I will keep being loud until it is not loud anymore, but normal," said Emam in an interview published in Enigma magazine.
Meanwhile, whether she realises it or not, Emam is definitely leaving a lasting impression on the minds and souls of hundreds of women.