Kia ora Jo, what are your pronouns and can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My pronoun is Dr, and I have a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with it. I like that it is gender-free and not derived from my marital status. But it comes with connotations of elitism.
I am a mother of two, avid baker and gin distiller. During the work week I am a professional director, coach and consultant focusing on diversity and inclusion and governance. A focus of my current work is as co-founder of Mind the Gap (working to reduce pay gaps) and supporting boards in the community sector.
What does the word Dignity mean to you?
Dignity for me is about everyone having what they need to have a sense of pride, self-confidence and self-respect.
What was a meaningful experience relating to your period growing up?
I started menstruating earlier than most of my friends, so I found my early years stressful. I remember always tying my school cardigan around my school uniform to make sure no-one could see any leaks. At some point, I remember feeling more confident, having more understanding of my cycle and not worrying so much.
What are some of the best things for you about being/identifying as a woman and menstruation?
Menstruation was not openly discussed when I was a teenager. So as a mum to young people, I was determined my daughter would know everything, be supported at every step and not feel awkward, and that my son knows how to support the women in his life.
As I reach menopause, I will also share these experiences with others - sharing, normalising, celebrating our bodies.
What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?
Being and staying fit makes me feel empowered. Sweat on my skin after a good work-out. The freedom of swimming. As I age, I am very thankful of my body and what it has done and continues to do for me.
What would you like to say to anyone navigating their first period?
Despite messages you might have heard, your first period is something to celebrate. Focus on what this positive milestone means, rather than the negative messages you might pick up. Also, please ask for help and advice. There will be girls and women around you who will be delighted to support you. We have all been there!
How would you like to see the current status quo around access and period products and period equity in Aotearoa change?
Everyone should have easy access to everything they need for their period. We are getting there, but there is still work to do and we are lucky that Dignity is showing such leadership.
Thank you Jo for being this month’s Voice of Dignity. Find out more about Jo’s work at Mind the Gap.