Emojis. You have them on your phone, your laptop, embedded into apps and platforms. These small, sometimes cute (sometimes not) ubiquitous digital icons communicate across languages on mobile devices around the world. Recently, the international child rights organization Plan International asked a question:
What if a “period emoji” could help highlight the stigma that millions of girls and women around the world face each month during their periods?
In “Charity calls for ‘period emoji’ to address taboo of menstruation,” Lin Taylor of the Thomson Reuters Foundation tells us more about why the organization championed a public vote for a period emoji. Here’s an excerpt:
While there are symbols for avocado, a telescope, and even a unicorn, menstruation is not represented as an ’emoji’, a small icon on smartphones and tablets commonly used to express emotions or physical things.
So the organization put five designs to the test over social media and asked followers to vote on their favorite emoji. In the end, more than 54,600 people responded by choosing the “Knickers” design.
“Girls and women have told us about the embarrassment and shame they suffer when it’s their period. We need to make it easier to talk about something that is part of everyday life,” said Danny Vannucchi, Plan International’s campaigns manager. . . .
“These taboos can have a damaging impact on the lives of girls and adolescents, from missing school because they face bullying or unfair treatment to causing infections due to a lack of menstrual hygiene education and products.”
“This is a creative campaign, and another way of recognizing menstruation as a very normal subject,” says Nancy Muller, who leads PATH’s global work on menstrual health. “The bottom line is that there wouldn’t be life without menstruation! We need to turn the conversation from one of shame to one of pride and dignity.”
The last hurdle is to get the Unicode Consortium, the organization that standardizes emoji characters, to add the winning emoji to mobile devices and keyboards around the world.
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- Tracy Romoser was formerly a communications officer and the blog editor at PATH.