GRACE'S MUSINGS: The menopause #MeToo
October has marked 2022 World Menopause Awareness Month, and each year October 18th is designated as World Menopause Day. So once again everyone is talking about the menopause, and here at Studio10 this could not be more welcome – an issue that for so long had remained shrouded in taboo, thankfully, has its platform to create awareness and educate once more.
The fact that we are now able to discuss this openly is a substantial step in the right direction, and this year an increasing number of celebrity women are using their high profile to talk about their own experience and make sure the conversation surrounding the menopause is ongoing.
To be fair, talk around the menopause has edged into mainstream awareness significantly over the last couple of years. Thanks to women like Davina McCall with her Channel 4 documentaries Sex, Myths and the Menopause and Sex, Mind and the Menopause, and Meg Mathews, who having struggled to understand and cope with her own debilitating experience launched the informative website MegsMenopause, together with a specifically designed related range of intimate skincare products.
Former BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin is another high profile face who has teamed up with a number of campaigns for wider menopause awareness, particularly in the workplace, after her own debilitating experience began at the age of 45. Having hosted the world’s first Menopause Friendly Employer Awards in London back in September, she will also be presenting a new programme Menopause: The Change is Here, created by the British Menopause Society in partnership with ITN Productions, and airing to coincide with World Menopause Day exclusively on their YouTube Channel, BMS TV.
It is clear that women are talking and that the menopause continues to have its “#MeToo” moment. But where we still fall down and what has to be addressed now is how the practical aspects of going through the menopause can be accommodated – particularly in the workplace – something Louise Minchin feels strongly about. Talking to Hello Magazine about her own workplace experience with the menopause she said: “It’s really important because we’re at the height of our careers and we can’t get to the position whereby people are having to leave their jobs because they’re suffering from menopausal symptoms”.
In July the Women and Equalities Committee published a report, Menopause and the Workplace, which recommended (among other points) that the government legislate to make the right to flexible working a day-one right; and that the Health and Safety Executive and the Equality and Human Rights Commission should publish guidance on the menopause. Not before time when you consider that for career women the menopause can have a devastating effect on their working lives, and that many are forced to leave their professions early through lack of support and understanding. Employers need to recognise the health impacts of the menopause – and act.
The number of high profile women who have highlighted their stories surrounding the menopause over the last couple of years, and those who continue to campaign for greater awareness is impressive. At the end of September, Andrea McLean, Sally Phillips, Gaby Logan, Shaparak Khorsandi, Anna Richardson and Karen Arthur all spoke candidly about their personal experience of the menopause in a show called Menopause Monologues. They voiced their thoughts on what can be done to improve the experience of menopause for all women.
This is exactly what we need. More women who are prepared to talk and to share. After all, when you consider that most women at some point in their life will experience symptoms of the menopause, we need to make sure that in decades to come when our daughters are going through exactly the same experience, articles like this will no longer be necessary. We will have created the changes we want to see.