The menopause is a natural stage of life which affects around half of the population and this year, World Menopause Day takes place on Tuesday 18 October. It is an important opportunity to talk about and raise awareness of an issue that we should all care about, whether we experience it directly or not.
Action at the MU
EC member and saxophonist Millicent Stephenson, who has previously written about her experiences of menopause, will lead a session on the topic at our Members’ Conference later today, alongside Alison Foster, a Trade Union Studies Coordinator at City of Bristol College.
The session, titled “Menopause and the music industry: How can the music industry break the culture of silence on menopause?” gives members an opportunity to share their own experiences of menopause and working in the music industries, and come up with action-focussed solutions.
Writing last year for World Menopause Day, General Secretary Naomi Pohl highlighted the role of addressing menopause in the wider context of gender inequality in the music industries, particularly around enabling women to sustain their careers.
Menopause and work
In 2012 the MU shared a call for evidence from the Women and Equalities Select Committee Menopause Inquiry.
The inquiry published their first report earlier this year in which it makes a number of recommendations, including that the Government “launches a visible public health campaign around menopause; its symptoms, impact and how to seek treatment and other help, including support at work”.
With regards to workplaces, the report also called for a government-appointed Menopause Ambassador to work with unions and advisory groups, and assist employers with developing policies to support people experiencing menopause in the workplace.
In relation, ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have put together a resource to help navigate menopause and increase menopause awareness in the workplace. It includes advice for people experiencing menopause, as well as their colleagues and employers.
You can also listen to their podcast episode where Acas Director of Dispute Resolution and Executive Board Menopause Champion, Kate Nowicki talks about how to support menopause at work.
Sharing experiences and solutions
Informal support networks such as the MU Women Members Network can be a great space to share experiences, create a supportive community and empower women and people who experience menopausal symptoms to share their knowledge and create solutions that work for them.
Remember: Members who experience discrimination related to menopause or have difficulty talking to their employer or engager about the support they need should contact their Regional Office for advice.