Menstrual Equity at Oxford Brookes showcased by the British Standards Institute

Launch of the Oxford Brookes menstrual equity project
From left are Electra Dottin, Sarah Howcutt, Programme Lead for Health and Professional Development, Maxine Fletcher and Jacob Callicott.

An ongoing initiative to support students and staff at Oxford Brookes University who are experiencing the pain, discomfort and financial cost of periods is being showcased nationally.

Maxine Fletcher, Head of Psychology, Health and Professional Development at Oxford Brookes, and Electra Dottin, an Oxford Brookes graduate who now works as the Executive Office Assistant in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences will be presenting at a British Standards Institute (BSI) webinar on 30 May.

The BSI is the UK’s national standards body, working to develop technical standards for a range of products and services. The webinar, Menstrual equity in the workplace, will highlight Oxford Brookes’ work to support people with periods. It follows the publication in 2023 of a guide to menstruation and menopause in the workplace, developed by the BSI with the help of academics at Oxford Brookes.

The BSI initially approached Oxford Brookes last year because of the university’s wide-ranging initiatives around menopause and perimenopause. These include a website providing resources and guidance, provision of an online chat forum and regular menopause cafes where employees can share their experiences. The Menstrual Equity work has followed the menopause initiatives. 

In partnership with sustainable period care brand Time of the Month (TOTM) free period products are available for students and staff.  These environmentally friendly period products are currently available at 16 locations across the University’s campuses.  Additionally, the University has pledged to support All Yours, an organisation which is working to tackle period poverty and to advocate for better period education in schools and the community. 

Maxine said: “We have the support of our senior management team and are working in collaboration with our Students’ Union, both essential for taking our menstrual equity work forward. Our hope is that we can continue to increase the number of locations where people can access free period products, and ultimately remove all stigma and financial hardship associated with menstrual health.

“We know how important menstrual equity is, especially as, for some, periods can be both painful and expensive. It’s important we address this to allow everyone who menstruates to reach their full potential. We have found the BSI Standard on menstruation and menopause in the workplace to be a helpful and affirming framework that guides our project. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the BSI, TOTM and All Yours, and to drive forward new initiatives that will benefit everyone at Oxford Brookes University and beyond.”

Electra added: “Staff and students who can afford it can donate period products to be used by people who need them. 50% of the donations go to All Yours and 50% will be used on our campuses.

“We’re raising awareness of the Menstrual Equity project at key moments throughout the academic year, especially during Freshers, in September and in January when we have more students joining us. We’ll also be reminding everyone of the support available on Menstrual Hygiene Day (28 May).”

Jacob Callicott, President of Oxford Brookes Students’ Union, said: “I recognise just how important this work is for our Oxford Brookes community and we have valued getting involved with the University’s menstrual equity project. 

“It’s vital we ensure anyone who needs period products has access to them and we will continue to work on in-person events and regular action groups to provide support to students and staff on our campuses.”