May 25, 2023
Menstruation is a normal aspect of life, yet there is still stigma associated with menstruation health, and many enployees feel they cannot discuss their menstrual health with their employers or request time off when necessary. Period stigma can manifest itself in numerous different ways, from explicit comments to a lack of conversation and facilities. With approximately half of the world's workforce consisting of menstruating people, it is imperative that they have access to menstrual hygiene products that are affordable and adequate, education on good practices, and a supportive atmosphere so that they may easily manage their periods. They also require access to facilities for water, sanitation, and hygiene. For those who menstruate, there are considerable social and financial implications associated with neglecting to address menstrual health in the workplace.
When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, we are falling woefully short but we can turn the tide. This article written by Janet Mbugua, founder of Inua Dada Foundation Kenya, and Odette Hekster, Managing Director PSI-Europe, highlights why it is important for businesses to do better by investing in women’s health. There’s much to gain in building a workplace that is responsive to women’s needs as it can benefit entire nations and economies. We need businesses to do better and translate corporate social responsibility into concrete action.
According to research, businesses that meet the demands of people who menstruate in terms of taking sick leave or other needs have an improvement in employee recruitment, retention, and productivity leading to benefits worth more than double the cost. Furthermore, workplaces that offer period products report reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and higher collaboration, from employees who menstruate.
On May 3, Days for Girls and PSI-Europe hosted a webinar to address employee well-being and menstrual equity in the workplace from brilliant panelists:
- Dr. Ekua Yankah, Brands on a Mission
- Dr. Lauren Houghton, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
- Pooja Singh, PSI India Private Limited
- Neville Okwaro, MH Champion, Kenya
- Dr. Deborah Maufi, PSI Europe (Facilitator)
This webinar addressed what it might look like for businesses to support MH in the workplace and understand that investing in MH makes sound business sense. In addition, the webinar introduced the Period Positive Workplace campaign co-hosted by PSI-Europe, which was created expressly to address the need to promote menstrual equity in workplaces. The initiative aims to establish supportive and inclusive environments that recognize employee menstrual needs, thereby fostering a more equal and empowered workforce.
1. Women and those who menstruate are integral to the labor force
The productive work, both paid and unpaid, carried out by women yields significant fiscal gains, enhances a nation's overall GDP and economic productivity, and delivers social advantages. Creating more understanding workplaces and integrating more organizational support for MH is necessary for maintaining the presence of women and those who menstruate in the labor force.
2. The private sector has an important role in making menstrual equity a success
Currently,there are approximately 1.2 billion menstruating employees in the global labor force. Creating more welcoming and supportive workplaces will not only benefit those who menstruate, but also yield social and financial benefits for the organizations they work for. While individual actions can help normalize MH to an extent, organizations and employers are required to make tangible efforts to improve workplace conditions.
3. Reaching menstrual equity in the workplace requires new strategies and forms of support
Embracing the positive aspects of menstruation, using period tracking technology, and even offering MH resources and menstrual leave (a policy providing employees with time off during menstruation) or sick leave during menstruation would allow organizations to become more period friendly and their employees to be more productive.
Building Menstrual Equity in the Workplace
The Period Positive Workplace initiative is a global initiative seeking to enlist the private sector's support and participation in the never-ending struggle for menstruation equity. Through three straight forward practices-providing period products, meeting water, sanitation, and hygiene facility standards, and documenting that period products will be provided for employees-the campaign aims to assist organizations in becoming more period-friendly and gender-equitable. Period-positive businesses can boost worker productivity and lower employees absenteeism by implementing these practices. This initiative is an effort undertaken by Days for Girls International, The Policy Project, Share the Dignity, PSI Europe ,The Pad Project, and The Toilet Board Coalition.
The process of normalizing menstruation in our places of work, and ensuring that people who menstruate are comfortable and able to succeed, is a gradual effort that requires the commitment and collective participation of all people within a workplace. Destigmatizing menstruation in the private sector and understanding how MH impacts people in the workplace – from productivity to absenteeism – is necessary to achieve menstrual and gender equity globally. With the upcoming MH day (28th of May), it is important that we break the silence, raise awareness and change negative social norms around menstrual health.
#WeAreCommitted to #EndPeriodStigma.
For full recording of the webinar, click here
Read the full webinar report here
For more information about the Period Positive Workplace initiative, visit https://www.periodpositiveworkplace.org/