Imagine a cozy, safe and private space designed to fulfill your needs during menstruation—chock full of free period products, iron-rich snacks, heating pads and light exercise equipment to help relieve cramps.
Or how about Menopause Mecca—an annual festival featuring seminars and poetry slams about this unique transition stage; specialty self-care products; and letter-writing workshops to share your wisdom with youth now menstruating for the first time?
This is the period-positive world that Period Futures—an initiative that works at the intersection of design thinking and gender equity—dreams of and hopes to make a reality.
Leading up to this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Period Futures team decided to take action to tackle some of the challenges riddling the menstrual health industry—from access, affordability and sustainability, to education and stigma.
With these realities in mind, they embarked on a three-week “design sprint” on a project intended to spark curiosity and conversation surrounding the complex future of periods.
What Is Menstrual Equity Day?
Menstrual Equity or Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHM) is a global advocacy platform bringing together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sectors and the media to promote menstrual hygiene management that “breaks the silence, raises awareness, changes negative social around MHM,” and “engages decision-makers to increase the political priority and catalyze action for MHM at global, national and local levels.”
Building a Period-Positive Future
Through an online survey and interviews, the Period Futures team—made up of designers Katie Kirsch, Jasmine Burton and Devika Patel as well as illustrator Roshi Rouzbehani—gathered diverse ideas and sources of inspiration from an array of experts, youth, designers and advocates.
From there, they turned them into nine (and counting) “provocations“—provocative directions designed to push boundaries and explore possibilities when it came to periods.
The result of their efforts is the launch of an interactive website—timed to Menstrual Equity Day—intended to stimulate and provoke creativity around menstruation, coupled with community use and input.
“The purpose of this project is not to predict the future x years from today, or suggest in any way that our ideas might resolve the vast, complex challenges that people are facing in menstruation,” according to Kirsch. “Instead, [we] simply hope to spark new curiosity and conversation surrounding the future of periods, so that more people might feel inspired and open to exploring this topic together.”
Period Futures is a young initiative, but the work they do—and plan to continue—is crucial for improving the relationship between perceptions, access and information surrounding menstruation.