Periods – they’re treated like a dirty subject. Something that should be only whispered about amongst close friends. Women regularly feel embarrassed whilst shopping for sanitary products, nevermind when their partners are asked to do it on their behalf. And that’s just the women who can afford these products. But why? Why has menstruation become so difficult to face? In a world where around 50% of us experience it, Victoria Heaney wants us to rethink periods and how we support those suffering from period poverty.
Victoria is a woman on a crusade for menstrual justice, an ambassador for human rights and a representative for the unheard. Last year the Catalonian Government accredited Victoria as an International Observer to invigilate the referendum in Catalonia last year. This was based on her work as an activist and in recognition for her supporting and upholding the human rights of others around her. This Friday, she’ll join us to share her talk “Let’s get the nation talking about menstruation”.
What is your idea worth doing?
My idea centres around using research to illuminate a taboo subject that is hidden and stigmatised from everyday conversation.
It is worth doing as menstruation affects half the population, yet the subject is still so under-researched. By bringing the topic of periods into the public domain we can break menstrual stigma and move away from concealing and hiding something that is not only natural but essential to the creation of human life.
How did you come up with your idea?
I noticed that there was a stunning lack of empirical evidence around the subject. From access to period products, to the impact on health, to being excluded from society to the qualitative experience women menstruating there is distinct lack of data collected on the subject.
How is your idea going to change the way we look at the world?
My idea is going to raise consciousness and open up dialouge and channels of communication that allow people to feel empowered to discuss menstruation, without feeling shame.
It is also going to foster a collective responsibiltiy to support others who are unable to afford period products and to push for change in regards to this.
Who has inspired you?
My mother inspired me to create the research project. I have distinct memories of her using periods products for longer than usual. This led to her contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which could have been deadly if not caught in time. Everything I do is always with her in my mind and thoughts around the barriers she faced as a working-class woman who spent her time putting everyone first apart from herself.
Who else are you excited to see at TEDxGlasgow 2018?
There are so many great people to see. I’m really looking forward to seeing Adam Kashmiry, his journey has so many intersections that cant be can’t be boxed into one absolute experience or identity. I believe that his story and visibility will be a lifeline to many.
Also, Catherine Heymans is pretty high up on my list. Astrophysics and women in STEM are two of my favourite subjects.