From left to right: Safiya Ahmed, Maria Than, Bristy Azmi, Anna Tsuda 

Preface

This project was developed as the first Fellowship of the Rights Studio , a new creative initiative by CRIN. The Fellowship seeks to support young artists to explore art for human and children's rights activism. It was piloted in 2019 with four BA Graphic Design alumni from UAL Camberwell College of Arts: Safiya Ahmed, Bristy Azmi, Maria Than, and Anna Tsuda.

Below you can find a button to start reading the book and download each chapter, or you can also download the official PDF version of the book.

Why menstruation? 

We first collaborated together a year ago at the Tate Exchange led by a UAL-based group, the Digital Maker Collective, and ran talks and workshops with CRIN and the public to explore ideas for making society a better, fairer place. During this week, Basma Osman (from CRIN) and Safiya Ahmed did a talk on period poverty and periods within different cultures - we were angered by the news of a 21 year-old woman who a few months back who had died in a Chhaupadi from smoke inhalation as she lit a fire to keep warm. This talk was our first attempt at trying to chisel away at the shame and stigma we weren’t fully aware that surrounded the topic of menstruation. 

 

When CRIN approached us for the fellowship and we were asked to choose a project, almost naturally we chose to continue exploring the notion of period poverty, excited to make a difference and to further our understanding in such a complicated issue. For the next 7 months as we started the project, we uncovered more information around period stigma and period poverty and the extent of its damage on a global scale. 

 

The thing is, all of us have gone through the experience of period shaming to different degrees or have felt ashamed and embarrassed at least once in our lives. This made us realise how absurd and ubiquitous the issue was and motivated us to get to the root of the problem. Why is menstrual blood seen as dirty? Why is it such a social punishment when you leak blood in public? Why isn’t period products free in certain areas of the world? Why isn’t PMS seen as serious? Why did some of us not know about periods at school when every single person with a uterus has to go through it for at-least half of their lives? Why do we still hide our unopened pads and tampons? Why do people still think that you can hold in your period like pee? Menstruation has to be normalised, and should’ve been centuries ago. Every single person with a uterus, women, trans & non-binary people will go through this experience, and yet it is not fully normalised for all of us. Whilst some of us have the luxury of treating our period like a normal, monthly inconvenience, some of us have to go through nightmarish experiences, skip school, can’t afford products or are not able to dispose of their products safely or privately and have their lives disrupted for a week. Normalising menstruation allows to remove the stigma and shame which comes with the practice and topic and encourages more focus on revolutionising the period product industry in a sustainable and accessible way for all. The best way to normalise a topic is to talk about it, to know about it, to read about it and to accept it. And this is why we created the Red Cloud Project campaign, to encourage menstrual education & discussion and sustainable production and management of period products to be accessible for all, from girls to boys to non-confirming gender folks.

 

The campaign includes an interactive box and an educational book designed to break the shame and stigma around menstruation, contains chapters such as know your body and period, the maze of period products out there and the direct and indirect effects of period poverty. To avoid regurgitating the plethora of useful information available there, we have also included reflective activities and exercises to provoke conversation and help the reader understand the content from his unique perspective, as we don’t wish to impose our point of view. Finally, we have crowdsourced stories from around the world in order to share the experiences of other folks out there, from positive stories to harrowing stories, the importance of sharing experiences is to connect us all. 

 

This project has allowed us to speak to many religious leaders and theologians to help contextualise how menstruation sits within their respective religions. We have also interviewed many period activists from around the world in order to inspire people of any age and background to fight back and support sustainable and accessible periods for all. 

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The Aim

Our aim is to increase accessibility of information, encourage conversation, and empower our readers through contents such as, but not limited to, reflective exercises, crowd-sourced stories, and interviews. We see ourselves as messengers that raise awareness on the issue of period poverty and stigma.

We really hope this book will be useful or inspire you in any way, shape or form and we encourage you to share your thoughts with your friends and family and to hopefully have a better experience with your periods from now on! 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you want to have a chat :) 

With love, 

 

From your Big Sisters. 

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Dear parents and guardians,

 

 

We thank you for using this book to help children learn about the intricate mysteries of menstruation. For ease of use, this book is divided and colour-coded into three levels to introduce topics at age-appropriate stages.

 

Level 1 (pink sticker) - Introduces the basics of menstruation and the different menstrual products available. These topics are suitable for children aged 11 and above.

 

Level 2 (orange sticker) - Further explores the biology of menstruation including PMDD, endometriosis, menstruation in relation to gender, and period poverty. These topics are deemed suitable for the ages of 14 and above.

Level 3 (blue sticker) - Deals with more mature content like female genital mutilation, period poverty and menopause. Due to their graphic content, these are topics that would be more appropriate for an audience of 17 years old and above.

 

All information in this book has been peer-reviewed by experts including doctors, gynaecologists, social workers, teachers, and NGOs to provide the most factual information. Along with these informative materials, the book includes many activities to encourage reflection and proactive thinking.

 

Although menstruation might be an uncomfortable topic for many, it is essential to talk about this topic to tackle period poverty and stigma. The book introduces various collaborative activities that you can take part with the children to start conversations about periods and share your feelings! It is important to do these activities in a space and with people your child will feel safe and comfortable.

 

With love,

From the authors

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