Sharon Moloney: A positive menarche experience, where a girl is honoured and empowered and taught to be in contact with her own needs, facilitates her later giving birth fearlessly and powerfully.
Gun Rombeck: Widespread derogatory attitudes to menstruation and the lack of recognition, mentoring or celebration at menarche contain powerful, often unspoken, messages about the value of a girl’s status and what she can expect as a mature woman in Western Society.
Chris Bobel: Menstrual literacy is the capacity to read and understand the body. (The Managed Body)
Eve Ensler: The menstrual cycle is a vital and vitalising process in women and girls. It is a stress sensitive system and when properly understood, physically and psychologically, provides a unique means of inner guidance and self-care.
My new philosophy is a longing for women to stop trying to transcend their body, in an assertion of intellectual equality, but to name and return to it as the source of female wisdom and power. Women have fallen for a post-feminist delusion that the greater their physical self-control, the greater their prospects of happiness, not realising that alienation from their own bodies actually destroys the possibility of empowerment. (The Vagina Monologues)
Geraldine Matus: The better you come to know how your body works as a woman and research the effects of various reproductive health treatments, the more you will be empowered and informed in such a way that you can operate with informed consent.
China Gallard: My enemy is my own way of ignoring the authority of my own experience. (Longing For Darkness – Tara and the Black Madonna)
Natalie Angier: The uterus grows. The uterus retreats. It is not unlike the heart, a large powerful muscle that swells, shrinks, twitches and be-bops. Oscillations and deep rhythms are the source of life, the principle of life; even cells work through pulsatile mechanisms…
If we respond to music viscerally, it is because our viscers are the original percussionists, and the heart and the uterus are among the most perceptible of our natural pacemakers. Beyond rhythmicity, the heart and the uterus share another quality, their association with blood. Not all women breed, but nearly all women bleed, or have bled. (Woman: An Intimate Geography)
poem in praise of menstruation
if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon
if there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta
if there is a river
braver than this
coming and coming in a surge
of passion, of pain
if there is a river
more ancient than this
daughter of eve
mother of cain and of abel
if there is in the universe such a river
there is somewhere water
more powerful than this wild
pray that it flows also
beautiful and faithful and ancient
and female and brave
Lucille Clifton, 1991
If you got this far here’s a little more on why …
When, where and how did you get the idea to establish Chalice Foundation?
I (Jane) had been teaching and creating resources for menstrual education and fertility awareness for several decades and, over that time, was very pleased to observe a growing awareness and interest in these fields. It was simply time for my sole-trader business to become a not-for-profit social enterprise and extend well beyond what I could do alone to include a dynamic community of creative and skilled educators and supporters.
Under the auspice of the Chalice Foundation we are able to network and collaborate with individuals, organisations and funders who share our purpose across the country and globe.
What kind of projects are you working on this year (2021) within the Chalice Foundation?
It’s been a busy few years in menstrual education and activism!
This year we have published weekly blogs and interviews for The Leak from a stunning array of writers working in menstrual activism / wellbeing / philanthropy / education and gender equity, including blogs concerning perimenopause and menopause. Even after 18 months we feel we have barely scratched the surface of potential topics – there is so much more to say.
Also over the past year we have trained and supported menstrual educators and workshop facilitators, including through the online Celebration Day for Girls Facilitator Training. We have launched online mother or guardian/daughter workshops, Celebration Circle for Girls. See www.celebrationdayforgirls.com.
We have worked with and supported The Global South Coalition for Menstrual Dignity, Victorian Women’s Trust, GoGo Foundation, the SA Commissioner for Children and Young People, Circle In, the Period Summit is South Australia and numerous individuals on publishing, speaking and policy projects, including Trace Balla and Mark Balla/Operation Toilets on the Cycling Together project and the She Listens Collective on the Giving Voice to Menopause film.
We very much look forward to further collaboration and menstrual education projects in the year to come.
Can you make a short introduction to “A Celebration Day for Girls”?
Celebration Day for Girls is a positive period preparation program for 10-12 year old girls and their mother or female carer. This workshop is designed to inspire curiosity, wonder and appreciation of the changes of puberty and the onset of menstruation.
With the intention to overturn secrecy and embarrassment Celebration Day for Girls nurtures connection, normalisation and openness through practical and positive information, stories and fun activities. The mother-daughter bond is supported and enhanced by sharing this special day together, establishing open and easy communication as they traverse the years ahead.
Celebration Day for Girls was first offered in 2000 and is now available in over 27 countries.
How important do you think menstrual hygiene and menstrual awareness is to achieve gender equality?
A positive menstrual culture is absolutely critical to achieving gender equity. Appreciation and understanding of the cycling, and menopausal, body as equally normal and worthy of support and accommodation as the non-cycling body, requires radical change.
That said we see evidence of growing awareness and momentum in many quarters. It seems every week we hear of initiatives: introducing menstrual workplace policy; provision of menstrual products in schools; and menstrual education and wellbeing projects. Each of these initiatives promotes agency for all women who menstruate, or once did, as well as for menstruators who identify otherwise. Admittedly we are starting from a low point and we have far to go, yet each step is an important step toward a positive menstrual culture and a crucial step toward gender equity.
What connections do you see between menstruation and human rights?
In order for women and girls to be able to fully participate in the opportunities available in their society the following rights are essential. The right to:
- positive, accurate and compassionate menstrual education
- affordable or free menstrual materials/products
- the knowledge and means to practice or achieve menstrual wellbeing, by self care and through well-informed health practitioner support
- the means to manage menstruation privately and safely at school, at work, in the community and at home
- participate fully in religious, civic and community life with no menstrual discrimination.
Menstrual education and normalisation is also essential across society, not just for menstruators, in order for the logic, sensibility and benefits of a positive menstrual culture be actively supported in all settings.
How can we achieve menstrual equity across the world?
Incrementally! The goal of menstrual equity requires attention and action on all levels until it’s done. Project by project, initiative by initiative, conversation by conversation, harnessing the passion, skills, knowledge and lived experience of activists, educators, researchers, champions and allies until we wonder what is left to do.
When girls are fully supported to begin their cycling years, and able to take for granted the means to care for themselves, the warmth and normality with which they are supported and educated, and are able to approach the changes of their body with curiosity and pride, and live their best life riding the rhythms their hormonal month …
When women, other menstruators, and those experiencing menopause, are able to access the support they need to care for themselves and live well, without shame or anxiety or isolation … THEN we can begin to frame an historic account of how we achieved menstrual equity across the world!