Modibodi and Plan International Australia – the charity for girls’ equality are united in being bold, breaking down taboos and empowering girls and women to manage their periods safely and with dignity. After a successful pilot program in Indonesia last year, we’re proud to announce that we’ve joined forces again, to improve menstrual health outcomes for girls and women in Laos.
So we wanted to celebrate by telling you 5 reasons why we love them and are proud to partnering with them again!
1. They successfully campaigned for the world’s first period emoji
After years of campaigning by Plan International, in 2019 a period emoji became available on millions of smartphones around the world - giving anyone who menstruates a new way to talk about their periods.
The period emoji was introduced after more than 55,000 people in the UK and Australia called for it to be added to the global keyboard, in a campaign led by the global girls’ rights organisation.
Susanne Legena, CEO of Plan International Australia, said the period emoji has been a long time coming.
“We are so thrilled to see this emoji finally available on our smartphone keyboards,” Ms Legena said.
“The issue of period stigma is a serious one and while an emoji isn’t going to solve this on its own, it will help change the conversation. Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it.
“Emojis are a universal language. For Unicode to recognise that menstruation should be represented in the new global language is a huge step towards breaking down a global culture of shame around periods.
2. They’re shining a light on how the global COVID-19 pandemic is impacting girls and everyone who menstruates
When the global pandemic began, one of the lesser known impacts was severe shortages of period products, a sharp rise in prices of pads and tampons, and lack of access to basic information and services about menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
Plan International Australia - the charity for girls’ equality released its first Periods in a Pandemic report for World Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May 2020.
The report found that from to Kenya to Nepal, to Australia, Ireland and Cambodia, COVID-19 lockdowns were causing big problems for people who menstruate. “Periods don’t stop during a pandemic, but managing them has become a whole lot harder,” Plan International Australia’s CEO Susanne Legena said.
“Internationally, Plan International’s experts working on the frontline of menstrual hygiene management have reported serious and widespread issues,” Ms Legena said.
“In particular, they are finding it difficult to source products, have reported intentional inflation of prices, and serious issues with sanitation and reliable access to information. In many countries, period products have become scarce and vulnerable girls and young women, in particular are going without.”
The charity for girls’ equality followed up their research in 2021 with a sequel report: Periods in Pandemic: One Year On. It revealed that globally, almost 60% of girls in the countries surveyed are now facing a vacuum of crucial information and basic services on MHM – and are in fact able to access even less information and basic services compared to the same time last year.
3. They’re tackling period stigma, by educating boys and men
Ending period shame doesn’t stop at supporting and empowering people who menstruate. Plan International Australia – the charity for girls’ equality knows this, and takes a community-centred approach in their work.
In many countries across the world, periods are seen as a taboo subject and are not talked about at all in schools or even at home. This contributes to the shame that girls feel about menstruation, and boys play an important role in changing these patterns.
By including boys in school health clubs, Plan International aims to bring light to the harmful myths and misconceptions about periods. In the face of the pandemic, they have shifted their MHM education to create small, online sessions where boys and girls can discuss issues around menstrual health in a safe environment.
This work has helped to shift negative stereotypes in communities worldwide, and Plan International has seen a reduction in bullying and stigma around periods, giving people who menstruate the dignity and freedom from discrimination they deserve.
To support this work, you can give a gift today to help end period stigma and provide girls with the education, support and supplies they need to manage their periods with pride. Visit plan.org.au/appeal/smash-the-stigma/
4. They’re helping to make sure millions of girls don’t have to miss out on their education, just because of their period
It’s not just taboo and stigma that stops girls from going to school when they are on their period. For many people who menstruate, a lack of access to menstrual health products and clean, private toilets make things even more difficult.
Among a group of schools surveyed in the Solomon Islands, only 14% of girls said they were comfortable using the toilets at school when menstruating and 22% said they avoided coming to school if they were on their period.
Managing menstruation at school is an important part of Plan International Australia’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programs. This includes, among other initiatives, providing materials to build or refurbish toilets, ensuring access to clean water, and making sure communities know how to use and maintain the facilities properly.
These efforts help to prevent the spread of disease, and support girls and young women to continue their education uninterrupted.
When it comes to MHM products, Plan International Australia is working alongside Modibodi to provide people who menstruate with reusable period underpants so that they can attend school with pride and confidence.
5. They’re our proud partner!
Modibodi and Plan International Australia – the charity for girls’ equality are united in being bold, breaking down taboos and empowering girls and women to manage their periods safely and with dignity.
We've proudly joined forces to improve menstrual health outcomes for girls and women in Indonesia and Laos, supplying over four and a half thousand people with reusable period underpants, helping break down taboos and improve knowledge and attitudes around menstruation among girls and boys in remote communities.
We have joined together in this program because of our shared belief in the importance of tackling taboos around menstruation - a natural, normal part of life for more than half the world’s population; and to help end period poverty which can significantly impact girls’ opportunities to live their lives and participate in activities alongside boys.
Our work together will ensure thousands of girls and women can access safe and sustainable period products, live free from period stigma and participate more fully in daily life – including their education!