MENSTRUATION AT WORK
OAround a half of the female population and around 26% of the world’s population are of reproductive age and thus menstruate. Women represent a significant portion of the labour market so it would be a mistake to think that the professional life and menstruation are separate from each other.
Workplaces used to be exclusively male domains, the result being that most organisations have been designed to meet the needs of men.
All women and menstruating people share common basic needs that have to be met for them to be able to participate in social life on an equal basis. Awareness of menstruation as an experience affecting menstruating people in the workplace can be beneficial.
Do you seriously consider supporting and empowering your male and female employees? Do you want to create a menstruation-friendly workplace? Here are some examples of what you can do:
Provide free sanitary items: If toilet paper is available free of charge, sanitary items such as tampons or pads perhaps should be as well. Women usually menstruate once a month but the exact time, place and circumstances in which the period occurs is not always predictable. With menstrual management materials available in toilets, female employees will not have to suffer additional stress when facing an unexpected period (e.g. over being short of pads, getting a stain on their trousers or leaving a stain on a chair).
Educate and raise awareness: Creating a menstruation-friendly culture in the workplace is a challenge, especially if you consider the scale of the surrounding taboo and stigmatisation surrounding menstruation. Relatively small changes can help enhance the knowledge and awareness of menstrual health and help counter the taboo.
Provide more toilets: Women tend to use toilets more frequently than men and spend more time in them. This increases the demand for women’s toilets. In addition to a sufficient number of toilets, waste bins in every toilet cubicle are also essential.
Plan the working time of employees as appropriate: When planning the working time you may want to allow additional time for changing menstrual management materials and discomforts that a menstruating person may be experiencing at the time.
It is also worth being aware that some people have individual needs in relation to menstruation as a result of their medical conditions such as endometriosis or PMS (premenstrual syndrome)/PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). This may necessitate additional visits to the doctor or the use of sick leave.
Menstruation affects different aspects of the working environment ranging from physical (properly equipped and stocked toilets) through organizational (access to toilets) to social (being able to talk openly about menstruation and your needs).
If we want to create a friendly workplace for women and menstruating people, we should get on board both employers and all employees, regardless of their gender. Join the programme and learn more about how to create a menstruation-friendly workplace!
Remember that such measures empower all employees.
To help employers, we have created a special calculator. It allows you to estimate how much supplies you will need to provide menstruation protection at your organisation and what costs are involved.
IS YOUR WORKPLACE MENSTRUATION-FRIENDLY?
MENSTRUAL HEALTH AND HYGIENE KNOWLEDGE
Menstruation is a natural biologic process experienced by nearly half of the population, and for a considerable part of their lives.
Nevertheless, millions of women around the world are still humiliated, stigmatised and socially excluded because of it. Many people cannot afford to buy sanitary items needed during periods.
Menstrual health and hygiene has four components:
- Access to preferred and sufficient sanitary items, such as tampons or sanitary pads
- Access to washing facilities and safe places to change and dispose of menstrual management materials
- Education on menstrual health and hygiene: knowledge and understanding of menstruation as a biological process
- A supportive environment where menstruation is not stigmatised.
All the above aspects need to be factored in when defining the ambit of menstrual health and hygiene. If any individual components are missing, this may lead to exclusion of menstruating people on the educational, psychosocial and economic levels.
Do you know that...
A workplace that is adapted to women and menstruating people influences:
MENSTRUAL POVERTY AND EXCLUSION WORLDWIDE
According to available data, of the 1.9 billion menstruating people around the world over 500 million are unable to fully maintain hygiene during their periods. However, those estimates are only based on numbers of women who lack access to adequate sanitation facilities whereas people without access to sanitary materials or sufficient knowledge and those stigmatised because of menstruation would also seem appropriate to be considered.
There is a small number of studies to determine the total number of people that are unable to adequately take care of their health and hygiene during their periods. The lack of such data results from a strong taboo and ignorance of the issue among most societies worldwide.
Is it really an issue in Poland?
The issue of menstrual poverty affects people around the world, even those living in more developed countries. It is also present in Poland. Lack of access to menstrual supplies, insufficient or inadequate toilets and lack of reliable and accurate knowledge and a stigmatising environment are all problems faced by girls and women in Poland.
Research by the Kulczyk Foundation on perceptions of menstruation shows that every fifth woman in Poland has happened not to have money to buy appropriate menstrual hygiene products. In addition, periods are still a social taboo. Publications that present menstruation in an honest and true-to-life way still stir controversy and distaste, even among women. For years, commercials that talked about menstruation put discretion first, reinforcing the urge to hide it from the world.
A whopping 42% of the women interviewed admitted that menstruation is or was not talked about at all in their family home. For many, it is an embarrassing subject that they are reluctant to talk about. The experience of the first menstruation is often fraught with shame, anxiety and loneliness. Every third teenage girl is not prepared for the first period.
Many myths and stereotypes around menstruation continue to persist in Poland. They reinforce misconceptions among both women and men and thus perpetuate inappropriate attitudes towards menstruation. Research by the Kulczyk Foundation has found that almost 25% of women think that you cannot get pregnant during the period and every fifth still believes that you would rather avoid baking cakes or pickling cucumbers while on the period.
What are the effects of menstrual poverty?
Menstrual health and hygiene have a fundamental impact on the lives of millions of people globally. Lack of it has adverse effects across the health, education, psychosocial and economic spheres. It affects almost every aspect of a woman’s life and, consequently, affect the society at large.
Being unable to maintain menstrual health and hygiene has the following effects:
- Health effects – particularly urogenital infections and pain;
- Psychosocial effects – stigma and feelings of shame;
- Education effects – absenteeism from school and forced dropping out as a consequence;
- Economic effects – reduced ability to participate in the workplace.
FACTS, DID YOU KNOW THAT...
Menstruation is a natural physiological process that provides important information about health.
Menstruation lasts from 3 to 7 days and occurs every 24 to 35 days.
A woman bleeds for 7 to 9 years in total, which is 10–13% of her lifetime.
Approximately 60 ml, or 1/4 cup, of menstrual blood is lost during one menstrual period.
Not only women menstruate. Trans men, intersex or non-binary people, among others, can also have menstruation.
Just 68 percent of women declare that they accept the fact that they menstruate.
Of the 1.9 billion menstruating people around the world, estimates suggest that over 500 million are unable to fully maintain hygiene during their periods.
Every fifth Polish woman has happened not to have money to buy appropriate sanitary products.
42 percent of Polish women admit that menstruation is or was not talked about at all in their family home.
It is estimated that a woman menstruates 350 to 480 times throughout her life.