International Women’s Day 2019 (8th March) will see an unusual event taking place in the centre of Newcastle.
Grey’s Monument is to be covered in hundreds of red pompoms and will fly red streamers from its top.
The monument will be decorated in this way to protest against the stigma which is still associated with periods and to highlight the issue of period poverty – women struggling to afford basic sanitary products.
The pompoms are to remind people that periods are normal and natural and should not be a source of shame, embarrassment or disgust. Instead the event hopes to promote a message of ‘period positivity’.
Surveys show that nearly half of young women in the UK between the ages of 14 and 21 are embarrassed by their periods and that one in ten have been unable to afford sanitary protection.
The deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Joyce McCarthy, said, “The pompoms are a great and easy way for people across the city to get involved in International Women’s Day celebrations and raise awareness about this important issue.”
“Period poverty is a growing challenge facing many women and girls and dealing with periods is a struggle for many.”
“Too often women and girls are left feeling ashamed, embarrassed or uncomfortable about their period, and this event and the use of red pompoms is a fitting way for people to come together and challenge the taboo around periods.”
The event on March 8th will begin with a pop-up choir coming together at 10.00 am in Bewick Hall in the City Library to run through some songs.
The choir will move on to Grey’s Monument at 11.30 am, where they will sing as the monument is decorated with the pompoms and streamers.
Members of the public are being asked to contribute red pompoms for the event. Anybody who makes the pompoms can drop them off at the main reception of Newcastle Civic Centre or at the City Library between 26th February and 1st March.
In addition to individual members of the public, community groups, schools, local clubs, knitting circles, crafting circles and staff groups will all be helping to make the pompoms.
If you would like to make some pompoms, please make sure you include two long threads so the pompoms can be strung together. The pompoms must be red. A diameter of 10 centimetres is ideal, but they can be of any size.
As well as the decorating of Grey’s Monument, a number of other events and activities for International Women’s Day will be taking place across Newcastle organised by women’s groups.
Anybody who wishes to take part in either the pop-up choir or the monument decorating on 8th March should register in advance. You can register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/international-womens-day-period-povertypositivity-event-tickets-54257062334.
Facts about period poverty and stigma can be found at https://plan-uk.org/media-centre/plan-international-uks-research-on-period-poverty-and-stigma.