04 November 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
There needs to be workplace menopause policies for older women, argues Herpreet Kaur Grewal.
In ancient cultures older women were respected and consulted by tribe or clan leaders when making important decisions. Menopausal symptoms were seen as a rite of passage into deeper knowledge and wisdom.
Evolutionary science studies have also revealed a phenomenon called the 'grandmother effect', which hypothesises that menopause exists in human life history because it enables older women to assist their daughters in caring for their children and that this benefit of her longer survival was an increase in their daughters' fertility.
Although these may not apply directly to the modern workplace, it is true that older women are an asset to the workforce because of their experience and competence.
Issues concerning women such as equal pay, gender and race bias, periods and childcare are already unpopular topics being discussed in corporate workplaces - and any progress has been hard-won in each case.
Menopause is even less discussed because it concerns the demographic of older women often discarded altogether by society. But awareness is increasing slowly.
Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler told the Labour Party conference in October that large organisations should offer flexible working for women experiencing menopause.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there are more than four million working women aged 50-64 in the UK and almost a third need to take time out of the working week to alleviate menopausal symptoms.
Research from Health & Her, which helps women to manage menopause, shows these days add up, costing the UK economy 14 million working days a year. This is even more reason for a menopause policy in workplaces to protect and support older female workers.
As the workplace becomes more progressive, places a greater premium on wellbeing and caters to millennials and Generation Z, is it really asking too much to include older female workers experiencing menopause in their policies too?
Herpreet Kaur Grewal is news editor at Facilitate