Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a national secretary for PSA Te Pukenga Here Tikanga Mahi, the largest union in Aotearoa. I am from a large, Polish Catholic working class family and commit my life to the pursuit of social justice, and this includes gender equity.
What does Dignity mean to you?
Our union has and is fighting hard for equal pay. We know many women don’t earn what they are worth, and that a woman’s income matters to the whole family. Dignity for menstruation means never having to make a decision whether to finance your period or put food in your child’s belly- everyone should have the necessities of life.
What was your experience with your period?
My experience is one of excessive bleeding, pain, anaemia and lots of Drs and hospital visits. Like many others who suffer with periods, I spent a many years of my life being misdiagnosed and dismissed, and feel very heartened that society is now more open about speaking about issues like endometriosis.
What is the best thing for you about being a woman and menstruation?
Women are incredibly powerful. Included in this is the ability to create life- whether we choose to or not- this is a power unique to us.
What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?
Connection with other people. Being part of something bigger, whether that’s a group, a protest, a concert or just being in the great outdoors. Being in the ocean when the waves are high.
What would you like to say to anyone getting their first period?
First, you are part of an amazing, powerful club- Congratulations. Then, talk to your mum, friends, whaea, nanna about periods. There is a wide range of ‘normal’ but if you don’t ask questions it is easy to be dismissed if you feel that things with you aren’t right. Always ask, always trust your instinct. My daughter has just been in this situation and I think I also talked with her about sustainability and how I wish period underwear was a thing when I was her age! So many good, sustainable options now.