Interview: Bringing a Decolonized Approach to Menstrual Health

An interview between Minhtam Tran and Madeleine Shaw about honest intentions, open conversations and making space for perspectives worth sharing.

Minhtam Tran, former Project Lead for Decolonizing Menstrual Health

Many of the individuals we interviewed said ‘just be honest about what your intentions are’ and why you’re asking us and then, making space for us to continue to do this work outside of this project. The major point is to keep having these conversations and building relationships openly and honestly.

Madeleine Shaw, Co-Founder of Aisle

We don’t need to assume that someone has a title of authority within the specific context of menstrual health to have a perspective worth hearing.

I did notice a profound common reverence for the connection with natural cycles and ritual and ceremony and intergenerational learning that I think is something that we can learn a lot from in the broader menstrual health space.

Moon phases, from Whimsey Soul: https://whimsysoul.com/what-to-do-during-moon-phases-how-to-use-moon-rituals-for-self-care/

Why do we need to be productive? Why is that kind of the gold standard of how we use our time? Why don’t we try to be sustainable, or kind, or just be?

Image: 4 archetypes /seasons of the menstrual cycle — from RisingWoman: https://risingwoman.com/4-archetypes-of-the-female-cycle/

The notion of re-Indigenization is a term that was relatively new to me and that I knew as soon as I heard it, I wanted to hear from the interviewees what it meant to them. It’s one thing to strip away a colonial mindset or practice; but then when we ask ourselves, in the case of Indigenous people who have had practices and knowledge and wisdom and ritual for millennia if they can shine a light on that, there’s an opportunity to bring a whole new understanding and body of practice and wisdom into the MH space — this is what I would call re-Indigenization.

Like taking away the colonized mindset (decolonizing) versus recentering traditional wisdoms and teachings (re-indigenization).

Decolonizing Menstrual Health Project Vignette on Ecko Aleck, from https://mhhub.org/decolonizing-menstrual-health

We’re using the privilege we have to center voices and experiences of equity-seeking people, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because their knowledge has value for all of us.

I am a huge believer in the value of basic human connection and trust. Once it’s there, you can do anything with it, and it kind of has its own energy.

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