Slowly, we’re getting there. Just check our previous annual reviews. In 2015, ‘periods’ were solely the domain of ‘menstrual activists’ – mainly on social media. Since then, the taboo subject has become more and more important. Nowadays it’s a bloody serious topic in political debates and the media; awareness that results in new laws to battle period poverty and funding for medical research. Times are changing! We’ve selected some highlights and lowlights for you that happened in the past year.
The menstrual year gets off to a good start. In France, none other than president Macron launches a national campaign against endometriosis with 20 million euros of funding and the words: ‘It’s not only women’s problem. It’s society’s problem.’ In Maastricht (the Netherlands), there’s a cyber attack against the university magazine Observant. What this has to do with menstruation? You’ll find out in March. Research amongst 4,000 women that’s published in January in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that the COVID-19 vaccination is associated with a change in cycle length, but that this disturbance is only temporary. Read more about this in October.
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) publishes an updated guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. In the United States, singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige features in the advertising campaign ‘Her Health is Her Wealth’, which promotes awareness for early screening of women’s health problems such as osteoporosis, heavy menstrual bleeding, cervical cancer and breast cancer. The American state of Michigan eliminates the ‘tampon tax’.
City council workers in Girona (Spain) get eight hours of ‘menstrual leave‘ per month. However, they have to make up for the missed hours within a time span of three months. Around 500 municipal employees will be able to use this menstrual permit. Utrecht University (the Netherlands) offers free tampons and pads to their students.
In March, it becomes clear that the website of Observant, Maastricht University’s magazine, was down in January for a few days because of a cyber attack by activists who accused the magazine of transphobia. Student group Feminists of Maastricht (FOM) applauded the attack on Instagram. FOM wasn’t happy with the language in an earlier edition of Observant, claiming instead of ‘women’, the magazine should have used the words ‘people who menstruate’. It remains unclear who was behind the cyber attack.
Malawi removes its tax on sanitary pads.
A menstrual coach will adapt the women’s team’s football training sessions Club Brugge in Belgium to the menstrual cycle. More and more professional athletes receive coaching on how their cycle affects their performance. The management of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) doesn’t see the need to provide free menstrual products all over campus. Faculties can arrange this themselves if they wish to do so.
Boys think menstruation is dirty, shameful and sometimes even disgusting. That’s what research by Plan International, amongst 4,127 boys and men (15-24 years old) in Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda and the Netherlands, reveals. This Bloody Honest study – held in the run-up to the ninth edition of Menstrual Health Day (previously known as Menstrual Hygiene Day) – clearly shows how the menstrual taboo is deeply ingrained in society, also in the Netherlands.
Spain launches a plan to give women menstrual leave. If they bring a doctor’s note. Good idea or not? Period-founder Paula Kragten explains why she’s not too enthusiastic about this plan in the Dutch television programme Khalid en Sophie. ‘There’s already a regulation for when you’re ill because of your period. It’s called sick leave.’ Meanwhile, in the UK, many charities call on the government for menstrual leave.
There’s a tampon shortage in the USA. Supply chain and labour issues due to the corona crisis lead to empty shelves. More and more Americans either can’t get their favourite brand or are forced to pay heavily increased prices – like 16 dollar for a box of 32. Eventually, the politicians get involved and remind manufacturers, such as market leader Proctor & Gamble, of their responsibilities. Earlier this year, in Q1, that multinational reported a 10% sales increase. Cause of this rise in demand? A successful ad campaign with comedian Amy Schumer.
More news from the USA: after a change in abortus legislation, the White House warns against cycle trackers, saying users should be careful with what they share. The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts menstrual health firmly on the global agenda in their statement on June 22. In India, Ranjeeta Priyadarshini starts a petition for one day of paid menstrual leave per month. Hawaii will provide free menstrual products in public schools. In the Netherlands, Erasmus University Rotterdam is the country’s first university to follow this example. The American state of Iowa bans the tampon tax.
The world’s very first menstrual museum has opened, say international media. This, however, isn’t true. Before The Red House Period Museum in Taiwan opened its doors, another menstrual museum already existed. That’s the Museum of Menstruation & Women’s Health, aka ‘MUM’ in the American state of Maryland.
Following the example of Iowa and Michigan earlier this year, in August also the American state of Colorado puts an end to the infamous tampon tax. After the petition of a then 21-year-old British student went viral in 2015 (she asked why helicopters and erection pills are on the lists of essential, tax exempt products, but tampons and pads aren’t), many countries have banned the higher sales tax on menstrual products. In Scotland, schools and universities are legally required to provide free menstrual products. It took two years of preparations before this law became reality.
In the Netherlands, organisation WOMEN Inc. hands their Manifesto Menstruation and Hormonal Related Complaints over to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. In it, they ask for more funding for research into menstruation and hormonal related complaints. Also the organisation Voices for Women has a petition for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, accompanied by over 40,000 signatures and personal experiences of women who struggled for years with illnesses before finally getting the right diagnose.
In Scotland, there’s abuse and threats when the country’s first period dignity officer in the Tay region is appointed: Jason Grant. Indeed, a man. Having a ‘he/him’ instead of a ‘she/her’ in a role promoting period dignity is recipe for a storm of protests. Former Wimbledon tennis champion Martina Navratilova on Twitter: ‘This is just f****** ridiculous… Have we ever tried to explain to men how to shave or how to take care of their prostate or whatever?!? This is absurd.’
In the Netherlands, the Armoedefonds (Poverty Fund) opens its thousandth menstruation distribution point (MUP) in the country. The Dutch short movie Vlekkeloos (Spotless) by Emma Branderhorst – about period poverty – is submitted as the Dutch nomination for an Oscar.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends pharmaceutical companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to add heavy menstrual bleeding to the list of possible side effects of their corona vaccines. At this time, in the Netherlands, Lareb, Knowledge Centre for Adverse Drug Reactions, has received almost 9,400 reports about heavy periods after a Covid-vaccination.
Wimbledon changes its dresscode for tennis players: no need to play in all-white anymore when you’re menstruating. Now, female players can wear dark-coloured undershorts beneath their skirts or shorts.
In the Netherlands, the theater show Pink Portal by Cecilia Moisio comes to stages all over the country. Pink Portal is an ode to the vulva, with plenty of attention for menstruation. At Period!, we notice more and more shows, art works, podcasts, music, books and movies about the subject.
The new Spanish law for menstrual leave (see April) has been adopted in the lower house of the Spanish parliament. It now goes into the next round, the Senate, for further voting. In the Netherlands, a majority in the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of a legislative proposal to make menstrual products free for people living below the national poverty level. The bill should be implemented in 2023.
Dutch ice skater Jutta Leerdam, winner of the speed skating World Cup Calgary (Canada) and the first Dutch woman to win a World Cup in the 1,000 metres four time in a row, says she felt terrible because of her period. Leeram speaking freely about her menstrual complaints leads to lots of (social) media attention. That’s great, but on the other hand also a bit unfortunate, we think here at Period!. The news should have been about how exactly the cycle affects her performance. Not about the fact that an athlete opens up about it. People, please, it’s 2022! Long story short: we’ll get there. But we still have a long way to go. Period!
Period! is an independent, online magazine about all aspects of menstruation. Period! is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you’re suffering from medical complaints, always visit your doctor or GP. Editorial articles can contain affiliate links. Sponsored collaborations can be found in the category Spotlight. Do you have any questions? Check our contact page.
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