Women in Leadership share what Dignity means to them
What was your experience with your first period?
I was accelerated at school, and was 2 years younger than my classmates, so I was the LAST one in the class to get my period. I remember it being Easter, there was a full moon, and my mother told me that I was connected to all women now...and the moon as feminine herself. Mostly I was hugely relieved that I was no longer the only one, left out of the tribe.
What does Dignity mean to you?
Confidence to be able to do anything without outside restriction. Freedom to fulfil who were are meant to be. When I got my first period I used rags, and then later "surfboards" safety-pinned to our undies. Spills were common and some days I didn't go to school because I was terrified of making a mess or being shamed somehow. Keeping the rags clean was a challenge (they weren't supposed to go on the washing line, because people would see them!). As a young single Mum I prioritised food for my son over tampons, and there were times I couldn't fully participate in life because everything was too awkward. I love that something as simple as providing period products can empower women and reduce barriers..
What is the best thing for you about being a woman and menstruation?
Now I am out the other side. I haven't had a period for almost 6 months so I am assuming that menopause is pretty much here. The best thing for me, was knowing that it was connected to my ability to have children. I struggled with both conception, and pregnancy and my children are the best things that have ever happened to me in my life. I don't miss the bleeding, but I do miss the rhythm it provided. I used to find it a good time to look inside myself and be a little gentler and quieter with myself.
What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?
Strength, resilience and peace. I've always enjoyed being physical - swimming, sport, and now walking and challenging yoga. Being with my closest friends, and feeling absolutely accepted. Even better is if I get to do something with my friends (cooking, eating, adventure racing, mountain biking, swimming).
What would you like to say to anyone getting their first period?
Be proud. Take time each month to go inward a bit and check in on yourself. We don't have to be go go go all the time.