Raising awareness about an important issue that affects women has earned an award for an enthusiastic group of University of Canterbury colleagues.
The Menopause Awareness Project Team won the 2021 Health and Safety Initiative Award for launching an educational programme Ruahinetanga: Menopause at Work, at the University. The key aims of the project were to educate staff on the range of possible symptoms, raise awareness about the potential impacts, and remove the stigma of talking about menopause at work.
The Menopause Awareness Project Team created a comprehensive webpage for staff, which included a Ruahinetanga: Menopause Guideline, a Ruahinetanga: Menopause at Work Support Guide for Managers, other resources, and details of the Kaihāpai Ruahinetanga | Menopause Supporters group.
The project was launched on World Menopause Day, 18 October, followed by a seminar for staff on 22 October with Dr Anna Fenton, a leading endocrinologist. The group plans to run regular Menopause Cafes where staff can chat to a supporter.
The project aligns with the University’s commitment to caring for and empowering staff, which is expressed in the UC Value manaakitanga, and was endorsed by the Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor.
“Around a quarter of our female staff are in the demographic of potentially experiencing the symptoms of menopause. We want to ensure that every manager knows how menopause can affect women, that there are a wide range of symptoms, and everyone experiences menopause differently.
“This will helpstaff members get appropriate support, if required, to succeed at work,” Menopause Awareness Project Team spokesperson Jules Stafford says.
Menopause is a natural process, typically occurring between the ages of 45-55. Symptoms can be both physical and psychological, such as fatigue, hot flushes and/or sweats, heavier menstruation during perimenopause, muscle aches, anxiety, loss of confidence and brain fog. These symptoms can be challenging for some staff members as they go about their work.
The project provides practical suggestions for supporting women through some of these symptoms.
The initiative has already attracted attention from other organisations who have identified the need to talk about menopause but need advice on where to start. Stafford has been invited to share the University’s journey at several online hui on the topic.
The Menopause Awareness Project Team members include Jules Stafford, Charmaine Atherfold, Angie Willington, Karen Grant, and Sharon Chapman-Stead.
The team received $2000 towards further initiatives for the project.