ILMA ALI AND MANSHA VIRK talk about Period Pride week which was celebrated at the University of Essex
The menstrual cycle is a monthly occurrence and happens so the ovary can produce eggs and the uterus can get ready for an egg becoming fertilized. We all know this, don’t we? But the period week was a good time to remind everyone, especially men, that anything you can do, we women can do bleeding. That’s right,whatever it is you did today, I can probably do it while hemorrhaging from the most sensitive part of my body. I won’t die! So think twice before calling us girls weak.
Last week, University of Essex celebrated Period Pride Week. The empowering events during these seven days raised awareness about different types of issues faced by women during‘that time of the month’. It aimed to support women and promote projects supplying menstrual products to those who cannot access them.
The Feminist Society worked with The Red Box Project Colchester to provide free menstrual products to any young person that may be struggling to find access to them in the UK. During this event, representatives of the Red Box Project had a talk with the students on campus about how the project is helping to fight period poverty and prevent bleeders from missing school. They accepted donations in the form of sealed sanitary products and many of the Period Week participants donated!
Even Moody Girl was invited to the period week to chat with the students regarding PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PMDD (Premenstrualdysphoric disorder). The aim of Moody Girl is to provide reliable support to girls suffering in their condition to better manage their situation. They offer a free online support group for women to talk about all things involving PMS, PMDD and Mental health. The community provides a safe place for the sufferers to share their stories, troubles and experiences. During the event, Moody Girl – Emily – discussed her own personal experience so that the girls everywhere experiencing the same troubles know they are not alone.
Another talk over the week discussed the environmental issues that menstrual products face and suggested different alternatives, demonstrations and activities. One of the alternatives, supported by the SU, were moon cups. It is an eco-friendly menstrual product that has been introduced and can be found in the SU store. The intention is to reduce waste being produced from periods.
Many staff members who have tried and tested the moon cup had been asked for feedback about the product to get a better idea of what they are like. We asked Natalie and Fiona about their experience with the moon cup, and they both agreed that even though it took them a little while to get used it, it was all worth it. They also mentioned that the cup might seem expensive at £20,the investment is for a lifetime.
On the other hand, sanitary towels and tampons on campus were reduced to half price to celebrate Period Week. Students were also given 20% off on eco-cups using a promo code. Clearly,a lot of schemes had been implemented throughout the week by the SU to ensure the university’s support towards the movement.
Moreover, the question is,if girls are able to do everything boys can, then why such a stigma? Why do we still need to make the world understand that this is a natural process? Girls in countries like Kenya miss an average of 4.9 days of school each month because of periods. In some cultures, menstruating women and girls are wrongly considered to be‘contaminated, dirty and impure’.
Laura Wedeen, a senior policy adviser in the reproductive health division, says, “Menstrual hygiene is a critical entry point for talking about sexual health more generally.” And though Wedeen concedes menstrual hygiene is not a well-developed element of sex education globally, she says, “I am very optimistic that we will get there. We just have to have these conversations.”So stop shying away and getting awkward when your female friend or girlfriend talks about her menstruation cycle.
I have heard some people say that men and women aren’t athletically matched, but how many men train for their intramural city swim meets in the open ocean with blood-seeking sharks? None that would have to worry about the blood-seeking part!
What I am saying is, get talking and end the stigma. Men may have the upper hand sometimes, but never forget… anything you can do, I can do bleeding. That is, just as soon as I take this aspirin and muster the strength to get up off the couch. Luckily, the University of Essex understands that and provides us with the support and awareness to express our concerns with confidence. A period emoji is being introduced later in March. Clearly, 2019 is on a good path – openly talking and educating the world about periods. And not to forget, the International Women’s Day is on 8th March and it will be here to remind us to #BalanceForBetter.