Another year has come to a close, time really flies when you’re not having fun too. Although 2021 was a strange year filled with personal turmoil for many, a lot worth celebrating has happened too. Ever since 2015 was dubbed ‘The Year Of The Period‘, I’ve been keen to reflect on progress year by year. You can view 2020’s menstrual moments here. It has been a great year for period activists and further menstrual equity. Let’s explore the last 12 months, shall we?
The term ‘menstrual health’ got an official definition
In order to further policy, practice, and research a global team of multi-sectional experts defined ‘menstrual health’. Considering how often period (and period problems) are overlooked in healthcare, this is a fantastic step. The new definition was created to be grounded in the WHO’s definition of health making the conversation surrounding menstrual health more widely accessible for all. Read more about it here.
The free period product movement gained momentum
More and more countries started to roll out free period product schemes in 2021. In June, New Zealand joined the growing lists of countries to offer free period products in schools. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated: “Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population”.
The argument for period leave continued
The fight for period leave has been an ongoing one. In 2021, we saw campaigns and think pieces for it continue. This year teachers in Northern India campaigned for three days of menstrual leave each month. After many private companies in India announced period leave, campaigners highlighted conditions those less fortunate have to contend with such as long distances and lack of transport as well as dirty toilets.
We also saw the Catalan city of Girona in Spain become the first in the country to offer up to 8 hours of menstrual leave a month to women, trans men and non-binary employees.
The Covid vaccine opened up a discussion about menstruation
If your periods changed during the pandemic, you were definitely not alone. Many took to social media to describe the changes they saw in their periods post-vaccine. Symptoms included heavier bleeding, more pain and delayed periods. In some cases, those who no longer had periods experienced bleeding too. As only severe bleeding would be noted in a vaccine study, it started a much wider discussion about how often periods are not part of the conversation. So many people reported changes that in September, calls were made to investigate these changes.
Awareness of perimenopause and menopause grew
If periods are left out of the conversation, the life stages that follow are just forgotten about altogether. 2021 saw a change to that though as the conversation grew significantly this year. We saw famous figures talking openly about symptoms and a whole documentary dedicated to the menopause. Books, think pieces and articles surrounding perimenopause made an impact too. These menstrual moments are only the beginning of the conversation.