Ladies for Change holds 1st Menstrual Rights Symposium

Maddie Fruman/Staff

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Ladies for Change, or LFC, held UC Berkeley’s first Menstrual Rights Symposium on Feb. 22, which included speakers, panels on advocacy and debunking “period myths” and the opportunity to make “Make One Give One” period kits for both attendees and women in need.

The event’s opening speaker was author and activist Silvia Young, founder of the FemTruth movement. The movement includes anthologies and educational work that supports FemTruth Policy California, a grassroots coalition that supports bills to increase awareness, education and inclusion for women’s health, mental health and adverse childhood experiences, according to Young’s website.

In Young’s talk, she explored the lack of medical knowledge about diseases that frequently affect women, the “gaslighting” of women as they seek diagnosis and her own path through living with endometriosis.   

“I’m Silvia, and I’m here to be heard, to answer ‘Now what?’ when life got in the way of living and to speak my truth, my FemTruth, in the face of the patriarchy,” Young said at the event. “I am not a doctor, but I am a patient advocate.”

Maura Jones, an obstetrics and gynecology resident physician at UC San Francisco, also held a panel that debunked period myths. The panel was followed by an interactive game of Kahoot.

Later in the day, during the workshop portion of the event, participants had the option to engage in either a table-read of the three-act play “GASLIT” or the period kit making station.

The period kit station enabled attendees to make period kits both for themselves and to donate to “menstruators,” or other individuals with uteruses, according to LFC co-founder Alexandra Alvarez. Alvarez noted that the group made about 100 kits, which will be taken to a shelter in the Bay Area. The event finished with an advocacy panel.

Campus junior Hollie Osburn said she came to the symposium because of her desire to include diverse groups of women in healthcare.

“I’m super interested in women’s health and, in general, frustrated at the lack of research and funding in (it),” Osburn said at the event.

Osburn added that she had never attended a formal event concerning women’s health.

Alvarez also said the group was proud and excited about the event’s execution and mentioned that the group is hoping to continue the event.

“I think we were really excited about how everything turned out, but we have big hopes and big plans to continue this for the organization in the future,” Alvarez said. “I really really enjoyed the advocacy panel. I thought it was really exciting and interesting to see the different sectors of things people could get involved (with) in terms of advocacy.”

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that period packs were donated to “other women.” In fact, period packs were donated to women and other individuals with uteruses.