The Period Positive Workplace Campaign
There is no overstating the importance of women and those who menstruate in the workforce. Today, women represent nearly half of the global labor market, the largest percentage than ever before. And, on any given day, more than 800 million people worldwide are menstruating.
Menstruation is a common and shared experience amongst a significant portion of the global workforce – yet, its effects on workers is rarely discussed. The reality of menstruation in the workforce is overlooked, despite the fact that four out of 10 people who menstruate have called in sick due to periods, over 80% of women experience a loss of productivity while at work for multiple days each cycle, and on average women lose nine days of work a year due to menstruation.
The time to start discussing menstruation in the workplace is now, which is why Days for Girls (DfG), PSI Europe, The Policy Project, The Pad Project, Share the Dignity and the Toilet Board Coalition were thrilled to introduce the Period Positive Workplace (PPW) initiative on May 25th!
Launched in the leadup to International Menstrual Health Day, the PPW initiative seeks to advance menstrual equity in the workplace by galvanizing private sector support and encouraging companies to become Period Positive Workplaces. Becoming a PPW requires companies to meet three criteria:
- Provide period products in or near workplace bathrooms (products can be free, subsidized, or for purchase).
- Meet WHO's Global Water, Sanitation & Hygiene standards.
- Record in an employee handbook, benefits plan or company policies that period products will be available for employees.
By becoming PPWs, companies will experience the benefits of being menstrual friendly, including reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and higher collaboration from employees who menstruate, and an increase in attraction, retention and productivity amongst employees who menstruate.
And, by following these steps, companies can help foster greater inclusivity and gender equity in the workplace.
On May 25th, the PPW coalition celebrated successful launches of the initiative across the world, building incredible momentum for the movement. In Canada, Parliamentary Secretary Jenna Sudds attended the launch of PPW. In Kenya, Uganda, and the Dominican Republic, their respective PPW launches all received national media attention, and had government leaders and development partners in attendance. In Uganda USAID’s mission Director was the keynote speaker. In South Africa, radio programs announced the launch of PPW, and in the United States, Utah received state-wide media coverage and State Representative, Julie von Haefen, was a keynote speaker for the PPW launch in North Carolina.
These are just a few examples of the incredible responses to the Period Positive Workplace initiative we have received so far. Most importantly, these responses demonstrate the global commitment to breaking the stigma surrounding periods and supporting employees who menstruate.
While a lot of work remains to be done in the effort to normalize menstruation and foster gender equity, the PPW serves a burgeoning point for this change occurring in the private sector. With continued support and partnership with the PPW coalition, businesses and organizations across the world can be at the forefront of this change.
Learn more about the Period Positive Workplace initiative at periodpositiveworkplace.org and ensure your work becomes a PPW.