Voices of Dignity: Rose McCarthy-Bain

Voices of Dignity: Rose McCarthy-Bain

1. What does the word Dignity mean to you?

To me, dignity is about respect – and others honoring that level of respect. The respect that becomes dignity if often in the way we are towards ourselves – how we treat ourselves, our bodies, and how we value that.

2. What was your experience with your period growing up?

I grew up in the behemoth of the Dolly Magazine Doctor. My girlfriends and I would take any and all advice from that magazine with supreme devotion. There was a wealth of misinformation being thrown around – and we lapped it up. But with support from some more educated sources, we were able to amble our way through.  

3. What is the best thing for you about being/identifying as a woman and


Right now, there has never been so much advocacy, funding, research, legislative change, and public discourse surrounding menstruation. In a lot of areas we’re at the beginning of these discussions, and there are still significant barriers to overcome, but the direction we’re pointed in is hopeful.

4. What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?

Having honest, vulnerable conversations with people who you care about. I find it so empowering to remind yourself that everyone deals with similar anxieties, has similar degrees of insecurity – to keep that in perspective through communicating, can be really empowering. We all go through a lot of similar motions, there’s no need to pretend like we don’t, or that we’re fine all the time.  

5. What would you like to say to anyone experiencing their first period

Embrace it – you have half of the population who will be able to empathise with nearly everything you’re dealing with, they’ve had the same questions, the same doubts and concerns. Reach out to your people and embrace the fact that you have such a strong commonality. I’d also say to listen to all and any pain – take it seriously, and be kind to yourself. Intensive menstrual pain should not be something that you have to deal with – there are wonderful health professionals out there, who will listen to your pain, believe your pain, and want to help you. 

6. How would you like to change the status quo around access and period equity in


Initiatives such as the access to free period products in state/state-integrated schools is an exciting starting point. I think this kind of baseline requirement will aid in the normalisation of the way that menstruation is viewed in New Zealand. The emphasis on equity will also help to reduce barriers – be that financial, logistical, or wellbeing based. I’m so excited to see how this kind of access and equity based initiative will impact the lives of young menstruators, and enable them to not have to hold back from life, because of their menstruation.

7. What changes would you like to see in the way our culture views, talks about and supports people through their journey with menstruation. 

I look forward to seeing something that nearly half of the population deal with, to not be taboo, gross, or inappropriate to discuss. I look forward to menstruators feeling empowered, knowing more about their bodies, and having access to so many options in terms of period products. I look forward to conversations around menstruation being inclusive and accessible. I hope that we’ll one day get to a place where menstruators are comfortable and in control of their menstruation – ultimately when they have dignity. 

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Dignity celebrates the successful start of the Ministry of Education's access to period products initiative in state and state-integrated schools and kura across Aotearoa, New Zealand.

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