Recently a colleague bowled up to my desk and, in her normal, adult voice, asked for a tampon. I glanced furtively around our open plan office. She obviously caught my side-eye and explained, ‘I’m trying to normalise talking about our periods’.
I am a proud feminist, so it was a shocking realisation that I had been conforming to the idea that periods are a private ‘women’s issue’ and that we should talk about periods in hushed voices. Of course, the implicit message is that periods are secrets. And secrets are based in shame.
But by talking about periods in our grown-up voices, we banish shame and give the very important and profound message that periods aren’t icky. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #eachforequal - we each have a role in creating equality. Normalising periods is one way we can individually help move this ‘women’s issue’ from the private ghetto into the public sphere, and create open conversations about making sanitary products accessible to all.
You can donate period products directly to The Foodbank Project by purchasing a Women’s Bundle.
Period poverty is real. Salvation Army clients tell us they have had to stay home from school or work because they can’t afford tampons or pads. They say they’ve had to resort to rags or toilet paper.
In a KidsCan survey of 5000 respondents, 53.1% said they had found it difficult to access sanitary items due to cost at some point - with 8.6% saying it was a frequent problem. One in five Kiwi women had missed school or work because they couldn’t afford sanitary items.
If women are blocked from taking up 100 percent of their space in society, then we do not have an equal society.
But simply by using the power of our own voice, we can become a collective shout for change. Let’s make periods problem-free for everyone.
By Ingrid Barratt.