In a bid to fight the stigma around menstruatuion, Apple Inc has made available the period “drop of blood” emoji on iPhone keyboards.
As a part of Apple’s iOS 13.2 update, the tech giant released a set of 350 brand-new emojis including mixed-race couples, gender-neutral individuals, people with disabilities and more in a push to be more inclusive.
This comes at the background of stigma that surrounds menstruation in many communities worldwide and Africa in particular. Talking about menstruation is seen as a taboo causing many girls to go mute on the topic while others hide it from their parents and try to manage it on their own.
In Cameroon, to some women, the creation of these Emojis is a real breakthrough and will help push conversations on menstruation but to others it doesn’t matter as to them menstruation is a natural gift and should be talked about at any time without restrictions.
Learning of these emojis gets Ruth Che Wachong, communicator officer of Mideno, excited. “It is a great step towards menstrual hygiene campaigns and its awesome. I hope other phone companies do create such Emojis so we can all use them.” Says Ruth
To Ebob Tabe, a student, menstruation shouldn’t be a stigma to fight against, not to talk of creating Emojis. “It is not an illness. Maybe some people feel ashame to call it menses but now there are so many different names people call it – For example ‘mbra’.” She adds
According to Plan International UK’s the campaign to include menstruation in the emoji lexicon, started in 2017 to help girls, women and other menstruators “talk more freely about their periods.
The stigma is a phenomenon many girls rights advovates are fighting to eliminate. Having these emojis of menstruation symbol is a huge step towards “menstrual equity,” but Tchouaha Régine Nadège, a school counselor at lycee technique de Bamendjing, has a contrary view and thinks an age restriction should be place on them.
“Emojis can be used; maybe for a particular age limit. Reasons being that, a boy child for example at their early stage of life will not like to accept the name or associate with girls that are on their menses but as time unfolds and they get matured and educated, they turn to accept.
So these emojis can be just for a particular age or gender.”
So far only IPhones have these Emojis. Hopefully in the days ahead, more phone companies will be receptive to the idea.
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie