A period emoji has today been given the green light and is due to hit smartphone keyboards in early 2019, giving women and girls a much-needed new way to talk about their periods.
Unicode – the California-based organisation that manages the distribution of emojis – has confirmed that the blood-drop shaped emoticon will be rolled out on smartphone keyboards worldwide as early as Spring.
Tacking period taboos
It comes after more than 55,000 people called for a period emoji to be added to the global emoji keyboard last year, in a campaign led by global girl’s rights charity Plan International UK to help break down the silence, stigma and taboos surrounding periods.
For years we’ve obsessively silenced and euphemized periods.
Research from the charity revealed a clear need for more accessible ways of talking about menstruation. A survey of women aged 18-34 found half (47%) believed a period emoji would make it easier for them to talk about their periods with female friends and partners.
Lucy Russell, Head of Girls Rights and Youth at Plan International UK, says:
“The inclusion of an emoji which can express what 800 million women around the world are experiencing every month is a huge step towards normalizing periods and smashing the stigma which surrounds them.”
“For years we’ve obsessively silenced and euphemized periods. As experts in girls’ rights, we know that this has a negative impact on girls; girls feel embarrassed to talk about their periods, they’re missing out, and they can suffer health implications as a consequence.”
“An emoji isn’t going to solve this, but it can help change the conversation. Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it”.
Emojis transcend cultural barriers
The blood drop is the result of a successful submission to Unicode from Plan International UK and NHS Blood and Transplant. It is designed to be a multi-use emoji, representing the importance of blood donation and breaking taboos around menstruation, as well as other everyday references to blood.
Carmen Barlow, Digital Strategy and Development Manager at Plan International UK says:
“Emojis play a crucial role in our digital and emotional vocabulary, transcending cultural and country barriers. A period emoji can help normalize periods in everyday conversation”
“For an organisation like Unicode to recognize that menstruation should be represented in this new global language is a huge step towards breaking down a global culture of shame around periods”