Animosa exists to empower women.
This mission defines our company. It guides our product development, informs all of our business strategies, and shapes our team dynamics.
I’m not talking about empowerment in a superficial-t-shirt-slogans-and-hashtags kind of way.
I'm talking about Barrier-Breaking, Status-Quo Changing, Stereotype-Crushing, Equality-Demanding, Difficult-But-Worth-Fighting-For EMPOWERMENT.
The kind of empowerment that is at the root of social change. That creates great leaders. That elevates us collectively and individually.
Maybe this sounds more like a nonprofit cause than a for-profit company. Well, we believe in leveraging business as a powerful tool to do good in the world.
Yes, Animosa needs to make money to be viable. But to be worthwhile, Animosa needs to make a difference.
Here are 3 ways Animosa will work to empower women:
We want to equip and empower women to explore, because we believe exploring is empowering.
To us, this means providing products, information, and inspiration for women to adventure. And by “exploring,” we're talking about the outdoors, the world, and one’s self.
We will proactively advocate for women within our company, within our industry, within the startup world, and in business broadly. We’ll go beyond bare minimums like equal pay and equal representation in executive leadership and board seats. We’ll use empowerment as our primary decision-making “lens.” (For example, Animosa would never partner a manufacturer that disregards the health, safety, or economic well-being of its employees– that would directly violate everything Animosa is about).
We, the women of Animosa, will be open, honest, strong, and vulnerable in sharing our struggles, triumphs, adventures, and growth. We will share stories of empowerment and disempowerment. We’ll ask women of all ages and life stages to share their stories. We’ll support women’s organizations and stand in solidarity with women’s causes. We’ll speak out on behalf of women who need an amplified voice. We’ll celebrate the strength and spirit of adventurous women.
Animosa’s first product centers on a topic pivotal to women’s empowerment: menstruation.
Of course, not all women menstruate, and not all who menstruate identify as women. But there are a lot of bleeding humans on this planet, and menstruation has long been a source of shame, misogyny, and disempowerment. This needs to change.
From a young age, girls around the world are taught to view menstruation as a source of embarrassment or shame. From slipping tampons up their sleeves on the way to the restroom to worrying about blood stains, women go out of their way to conceal their periods.
This menstrual taboo does more than just damage a woman’s mental and emotional health: among poor and homeless populations and in developing countries, lack of access to feminine hygiene products and sanitation leads to physical health issues including infections and increased risk of cervical cancer.
In most states, tampons and pads are not covered by food stamps. An overwhelming majority of US states levy a sales tax on feminine sanitary products, while other basics like food, medical supplies, and essential personal care products are not taxed.
Statements like “it must be that time of month" are used to question and discredit women’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and opinions. However benign or humorous such statements may appear, at the core is a dark and disturbing message: that women are inherently lesser or “different” while menstruating. That for a part of each month, women are less capable, more volatile, and inherently compromised. That women should not be taken as seriously or treated with the same respect while they are menstruating.
Here’s the good news: while menstrual bias, taboos and misogyny persist today, times are changing.
Menstruation is increasingly a topic in the media and in broader conversations about equality.
- “The period is one of the most ignored human rights issues around the globe—affecting everything from education and economics to the environment and public health—but that’s finally starting to change. In the past year, there have been so many pop culture moments around menstruation that NPR called 2015 ‘the year of the period,’ and Cosmopolitan said it was ‘the year the period went public.’ We’ll never have gender equality if we don’t talk about periods, but 2016 signaled the beginning of something better than talk: It’s becoming the year of menstrual change.”
There Will Be Blood by Abigail Jones, Newsweek, April 20, 2016
- More public figures are talking openly about periods, too. Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui made recent headlines when she spoke openly about her period to the media after a race. Last year, Kiran Gandhi (drummer for M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation) made a huge media splash when she ran the London marathon while free bleeding: “I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day [....] Although menstruation stigma is only one of many systemic factors that perpetuate gender inequality, I find it to be a rather large one that we frequently ignore. My run was about using shock factor to create dialogue around menstrual health and comfort, so that women can start to own the narrative of their own bodies. Speaking about an issue is the only way to combat its silence, and dialogue is the only way for innovative solutions to occur.”
- Internationally, menstruation is increasingly the focus of grassroots movements and NGO activity. Social ventures are bringing innovative, affordable hygiene products to developing countries. Organizations like Days for Girls and Menstrual Hygiene Day are focused on keeping girls in school (across Africa and parts of Asia, menstruation is a leading cause of missing school and dropping out), while groups like HappyToBleed are primarily focused on eliminating the broader social taboos associated with periods.
Circling back to Animosa’s first product: it’s called the Go With Your Flow Pack, and it offers a solution for managing menstrual hygiene in the outdoors and on the go. It’s functional, cute, durable, eco-friendly … more importantly, it’s meaningful. It’s an opportunity have a conversation about menstrual empowerment with women who adventure.
If we’re going to be a company that’s all about women’s empowerment, we might as well start where all human life starts.