The Waratah Project looks at the ways we collectively think about menstruation and menopause, and works to influence society towards more positive ways of understanding these universal aspects of female experience.
We challenge beliefs, attitudes and practices that are detrimental to the wellbeing of women and girls. Right now we are in the final stages of in depth research with women and girls, which will underpin our contemporary reframing of menstruation and menopause.
The Waratah Project is now in the all-important stage of writing what we have sought, and invested in, from the start of the project, a ‘landmark document’ – a publication which distils with sophistication the empirical research gathered in the first two years of the project; and which addresses the question of menstruation and menopause in ways which triggers real, positive and lasting social change.
In January 2016, we were able to engage the services of Karen Pickering — impressive feminist advocate, social and gender analyst and writer — to create the document. In June of the same year, we engaged Jane Bennett to provide additional writing support as well as organising some further discussion groups. Since the mid-eighties, Jane has been one of the foremost menstrual educators in Australia. She is the accomplished author of A Blessing Not a Curse (2002), the workshop designer of A Celebration Day for Girls and community educator.
In the time since, and thanks to Keran Howe and Jen Hargreaves at Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), the previous online survey has been adapted by Jane and distributed widely with a view to providing an important opportunity for many women with disabilities to have a voice on these significant aspects to their lives. This questionnaire repeats the general questions from the first survey as well as posing specific questions which explore the impact of disabilities on the menstrual experience. Jane and Karen have in train the additional discussion groups with LGBTQI communities.
We envisage the landmark document being published in 2018. Preliminary discussions are now underway with a view to forming a book publishing partnership with national audience reach.
Taryn Brumfitt is on a mission to change the way women view themselves. Fed up with the media’s inaccurate portrayal of the ideal female body, she set off on a world tour talking to women around the globe about body image issues, and henceforth creating the recently released documentary Embrace. We went and saw the documentary, and it was incredible.
The VWT has been trialling a menstrual leave policy and it’s been a great success. VWT staffers Casimira Melican and Grace Mountford explain the importance of contemporary and progressive workplaces in supporting people who experience menstruation and menopause.
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