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Women, period pain and the workplace

It is very easy to talk, generally, about periods because every woman experiences it at some point in her life.

It is however different when it comes to discussing period pain because all women experience it differently and at varying degrees. Whiles others have a normal period, some women are also faced with painful periods.

For a very long time, many cultures perceived menstrual blood to be “dirty blood” and when a woman was menstruating she was not allowed to mingle freely with everyone else. Those days are so long behind us, thank God; You say, but are they?

Women, period pain and the workplace
Women, period pain and the workplace

You are right, the Ghanaian woman can mingle freely when she is in her period but has she learnt to own and be open about everything concerning her period including period pain and the extent to which it affects her? Has she learned to look beyond her period pain (or lack thereof) experiences to be more accommodating of others? Or does she hide from the shadow of stigmatization that haunts her into silence? Perhaps, she is that shadow of period pain stigmatization.

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A survey carried out on over 100 women from different parts of the world, with a large number from Ghana, found that 71% of women thought conversations around period pain were limited. The same survey also found that 50% of women have at some point taken the day off because of their periods and 53% found it awkward to ask their bosses for time off work because of menstrual pain.

The figures clearly show, that while we have come a long way in our perception of periods, we need to encourage conversations around period pain and its impact on productivity particularly in the workplace.

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Unfortunately, the menstrual cycle does not adapt to busy work-life schedules, take into consideration symptoms and job roles. No, it just shows up whether you are ready or not and of course this presents a lot of obstacles for many women, which we need to be talking about.

For some women, menstrual pain has a physical and mental effect which is enough to impact work.

Women, period pain and the workplace
Women, period pain and the workplace

Does this mean, women are at a disadvantage in the workplace? Not at all. If anything this should encourage positive conversation around period pain. By acknowledging and accepting differences between those who have period pains and those who don’t and finding ways both groups can be served in a happy, safe and equality driven work environment without fear of stigma.

Considering that we are in COVID-19 times a group of women have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness on Period Pain through an initiative dubbed “Talkaboutitperiod”, through their Instagram social media platform to encourage positive conversations around period pain.

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The initiative has seen many women share their stories on period pain and how this has at some point interfered with school or work.

To mark Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) day on the 28th of May, followers of this campaign will have the opportunity to hear from an HR expert on the topic “Period Pain and the Workplace” via Instagram Live on @purplecomms. It is an opportunity for employers and women in the workplace to understand how menstrual pain can be managed in the workplace in a way that is mutually beneficial for both parties.

Written by Priscilla Aseye Febiri

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