Politics in Menopause
Last month on 24th January, the British Government rejected a proposal to trial a new concept named “menopause leave” as an attempt to help women manage the symptoms of menopause in the working environment. The plans were, ultimately, rejected which has been seen as a missed opportunity to support a valuable, knowledgeable and talented workforce who, are leaving the workplace for reasons relating to menopause; low self esteem, exhaustion through lack of sleep, anxiety and brain fog.
The figures are alarming with one in ten women who are menopausal or peri menopausal leaving work and having to turn away from an income which, can often, lead to women suffering financial pressures. It is worth mentioning that once out of the workplace environment it is twice as difficult to return which can often result in further unnecessary stress.
The government has instead suggested that all employers should have menopause policies integral to their business’ as the concern raised, in the government's rejection of this proposal was that “Menopause Leave” could, potentially, discriminate against men who suffer long term medical conditions.
Carolyn Harris MP, who chairs the All Party parliamentary group on Menopause, has been instrumental in banging the drum and successfully raising the subject in the political domain. Carolyn first came to our attention with her fight to improve accessibility for HRT and, as a result, ministers have agreed to look into reducing the costs of the treatment for women, a huge help to many who otherwise would be left to manage without this life changing medication.
Carolyn continues to raise awareness and push for more support. It is quite incredible to note that approximately 40% of medical schools do not have training for menopause. A common result of this which has come to light in recent years is that women have been prescribed antidepressants as GPs have failed to recognise the symptoms as being menopausal. Carolyn is supporting the idea that all doctor’s surgeries should have access to a nominated person for women to discuss their symptoms and identify their individual needs, providing support and valuable information which has long been overlooked or ignored in the past.
The fact that the subject of menopause is now being discussed in the corridors of power is testament to all those women over the past few years who have been campaigning and championing to help women negotiate this stage in their life. Women in politics are making female focus policies more mainstream and headline worthy which, in turn, brings the topic of menopause into day to day conversation something generations before had not been encouraged.
Thankyou to all those pioneers, they have all made, and continue to, make a positive impact for women.