Global girls’ rights organisation Plan International has launched a social media campaign to include an official ‘period emoji’ on the global emoji keyboard.

Half of women aged 18-34 Plan International surveyed said a period emoji would make it easier for them to talk about their periods with friends and partners.  

The campaign has been opened today (28 May 2017), World Menstrual Hygiene Day, to raise awareness of the challenges women and girls face all around the world when experiencing their period.

The winning design will be submitted to the Unicode Consortium that manages the distribution of emojis worldwide.

Plan International Australia Deputy CEO Susanne Legena said emoji is a global language, so it makes sense to campaign for a way to visualise periods that can be used across cultures.

“Menstruation taboo is a huge problem for girls worldwide. Girls are missing school and face bullying and unfair treatment. Plan’s research abroad tells us 90 per cent of girls in rural areas of Ghana feel ashamed during their period and in Uganda, 28 per cent of girls don’t go to school when they have their period. In India, only 12 per cent of women and girls in India have access to sanitary products,” Ms Legena said.

“Every month, hundreds of millions of women and girls around the world menstruate. The average woman menstruates for 3000 days during her lifetime.  It’s a normal biological process, but there is still this strange belief, even here in Australia, that menstruation is secret women’s business. We suffer our periods in silence and hide our tampons and pads away as if they were contraband.

“Even though at least 800 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating right now, there isn’t a single emoji to represent periods. Isn’t it ridiculous that there’s a long nose goblin emoji and a floppy disc emoji, but no period emoji?  We want people to change that by voting for their favourite period emoji design, which we will then present to the Unicode Consortium in California.”

Plan International Australia is working in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malawi, and Laos to support women and girls to manage their menstruation with safety and with dignity.

Menstruation stigma also affects women in the developed world, Plan UK research found. Results from a survey of 2000 women aged 18-34 found revealed:

  • Seven in ten (71%) women feel uncomfortable discussing their period with male peers at work, and nearly three quarters would feel uncomfortable discussing it with their male superiors.
  • When they were at school, 44% said they felt uncomfortable discussing their period with female teachers, and 75% would feel uncomfortable discussing with male teachers.
  • 64% of women feel uncomfortable discussing their period with their male friends.
  • 47% would use a period emoji to communicate about the period with their partner.

To vote for your favourite period emoji, visit the Plan Australia Facebook page.