20 June 2017: Thousands worldwide declare 'period undies' winner of emoji campaign

A pair of undies has been chosen as the winning design following a campaign to create a new period emoji by girls’ rights charity Plan International Australia. 

More than 72,000 people around the world voted for their favourite design on the Plan International’s website and Facebook page. The other designs included a sanitary pad, a monthly calendar, period blood droplets with happy, sad and angry faces, and a uterus.

Launched at the end of May, the campaign aims to breakdown the stigma surrounding periods and make it easier for girls and women to talk about their period with friends, family and colleagues.

The winning undies design, which received 35% of the total vote, will now be submitted to the Unicode consortium, a California-based company that manages the distribution of emojis worldwide, before the closing deadline in September.

If successful the winning emoji will be added to the global emoji keyboard by May 2018.

A recent poll by Plan International showed a demand for a period emoji in the UK, with nearly half of women aged 18-34 saying they would use an emoji – the popular digital icons used to represent everything from emotions to food – to represent their period, if there was one available. 

Half of women in this age group also believe having a period emoji would make it easier for them to talk about their periods with female friends and partners.

The survey also showed that the stigma surrounding women and their period is stopping them from talking about menstruation with the following groups:
  • Two thirds of women don’t feel comfortable discussing their period with their dad or male friends. 
  • More than 1 in 10 women don’t feel comfortable talking about it with their female friends.
  • A quarter of women don’t feel comfortable talking about it with their female peers at work.
  • Only one third of women would feel happy to speak about it with their female superiors at work.

Globally, menstruation taboo is a huge problem for girls, creating a barrier to going to school because of the harsh bullying they receive. For instance, Plan’s research abroad finds that 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. 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.