How can things change if there is so little action?

The taboo around menstruation at work

  • Norms related to women’s roles reinforce discriminatory practices leading to the experience of shame or, worse, exclusion, because they are menstruating;
  • There is a lack of safe access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities to hygienically manage menstruation, such as changing menstrual materials in private and having a place to dispose of them safely and discreetly;
  • They experience negative health consequences because there are limited or no supplies or pain management solutions; and/or
  • They power through their consistent monthly menstrual pain and discomfort, are reluctant to report symptoms or seek treatment for potential menstrual-related disorders.

What does a period-friendly workplace look like?

Concrete ways to do this are:

  • Providing free period products in all bathrooms. According to a study conducted by Free The Tampons, 86% of women have started their period in public without access to the period products that they need to function throughout the day. Providing period products in all bathrooms addresses gender equity and helps employees avoid stressful moments and can help lessen the burden of having to purchase period products for use at work
  • Safe, hygienic and discreet disposal in all washrooms, including instructions for responsible disposal and routine janitorial maintenance
  • Flexible working when possible (as opposed to menstrual leave), especially if tasks can be effectively managed from home, or making up for hours at another time (when applicable)
  • A relaxing space in the workplace, where possible to provide the feeling of comfort and support to take rest breaks, when and if needed
  • Promote an open conversation that acknowledges individual health differences. Destigmatizing menstruation can be accomplished through raising awareness and creating a shared and empathic culture where all employees feel like they can address their health without negative consequences. Ensuring that managers and HR are knowledgeable about reproductive and menstrual health is key towards the ultimately incorporation of menstrual health into a broader diversity and inclusion strategy.
  • Creating a budget line for ensuring a period-friendly workplace. If money is set aside to provide free toilet paper and cleaning supplies, basic period products should be included in the same budget.
  • Menstrual health literacy for all the workplace for individuals that menstruate and those that do not. This can include access to high-quality information about menstrual health, the cycle as well as menopause. This helps women feel more comfortable, recognize troubling symptoms for potential diagnosis and treatment of menstrual conditions or disorders, and contributes to the overall collective, knowledge, acceptance and support.

Countering the pushback

It’s time for action

  • A recent scheme by Bloody Good Period is breaking the silence around menstruation in the workplace with their ‘Bloody Good Employer Scheme’ where employers can support normalising conversation about menstruation in the workplace.
  • Many menstrual coaches are starting to focus on ‘cycle syncing’, or educating women to use their menstrual cycles as a compass for optimizing productivity. This is based on the scientifically validated effects that estrogen and progesterone hormones have on women*’s overall physical, mental and social well-being, especially if the the energy of the follicular and ovulatory phases is leveraged for action and social activities, and the luteal and menstrual for more reflection and rest.
  • Flo Health App partnered with designer Sophia Luu to curate a set of four menstruation-related Slack emojis to better represent the experiences of people who menstruate.

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A social impact agency specializing in gender, female & menstrual health

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Madami

Madami

A social impact agency specializing in gender, female & menstrual health

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