Important note: in this piece I will use the term 'women' to describe anyone who identifies as such and anyone who menstruates and births.
There's an age-old belief that if men had periods or were able to give birth, we'd have much better treatments and systems in place to accommodate them. An interesting recent development is the development of a male contraceptive pill, which, whilst important, still requires the pressure on the user to actually take it.
Many women, including myself, have long since come off any form of hormonal contraceptive after tiring of the havoc it wreaks on your body's systems, encompassing both physical, and most definitely mental health, but the fact of the matter is, whether there is synthetic hormonal intervention or not, when we bleed and grow babies, we still go through the wringer, but are expected to continue as normal.
Below I have shared a powerful conversation with teacher Francesca Filippa, who speaks honestly and bravely about the challenges of her menstrual health and how it affects her ability to work in the linear way the patriarchal world expects of us.
Whilst I have not experienced these issues on a personal level, becoming pregnant back in January of this year brought into sharp focus just how unaligned and incorrectly set up our modern world is for the cyclical nature of women's health.
To this end, I find myself in a contradiction. I love being driven and going out and achieving things and challenging myself in a world that is, whilst far from perfect, much better set up for the advancement of women in the workplace and in business than it was 60 or 70 years ago. At the same time, I am aware that the longing one might have for a world that allows women to be more in tune with a cyclical, non-linear pace harks back to a time when we also didn't have as many rights, privileges and opportunities.
So how do we make it work? How do we continue to allow women to move forward in the world whilst still honouring their unique wellbeing needs, and not being reprimanded or cast aside for honouring those needs? We have maternity leave in place, but what about paternity leave? I would argue that the latter is just as, if not more important when redressing the balance and also allowing a child to grow up in a loving home, free from resentment.
And what about paid menstrual leave? Paid menopausal leave? And certainly there should be leave for when a women suffers a pregnancy loss. Have a watch of the conversation I had with Francesca below, or listen now on Spotify, to hear her plan of action for creating justice for women's health.