With the close of World Menopause Month, it’s only fitting to take some time to reflect back on its purpose and the meaning of it all. It was just a year ago that I even became aware of it, and with so many arbitrary and made up recognition days and months (October was also National Pizza Month), I was pretty skeptical of its significance. I mean, really, who’s heard of it and why is it a thing? And exactly who and how is it helping? Even so, I went about posting and sharing different calls-to-action on my social accounts, feeling obliged by the symbolism of it all.
Fast-forward one year, and my skepticism has evolved to genuine intrigue, and dare I say, hope. Last month alone, I learned about, and connected with, some AMAZING women around the world who are doing substantial work not just to grow awareness and normalize conversation, but build and fuel a menopause marketplace that serves the broad spectrum of women’s needs. I’ve happened upon some pretty bold and brilliant efforts (new and existing) being led by women who are committed to addressing menopause openly and embedding it within the systems that recognize and support it as a fundamental life and health stage. And with the discovery of each new voice, I’ve become much clearer on World Menopause Month and why it’s so important.
According to the FemAging 2020 Tech report, the global population of women 40+ is growing daily, and an estimated 1.1 billion women will be of perimenopausal age by 2025. A recent report by the Female Founders Fund estimates that menopause presents a $600 billion market opportunity for businesses catering to women in mid-life. We represent a powerful and influential consumer segment and it’s high-time that menopause be elevated to the same level of education as menarche,* and regarded with the same care and attention (not to mention, investment) that our society puts toward fertility.
While most of us can agree that this is worthwhile and important every month throughout the year, World Menopause Month provides a point in time in which we can rally together and put a heightened focus on an issue that we’ll all go through, and is life-changing for so many. It’s an opportunity to amplify each other’s voices and share resources that have helped (and are helping) us get through. And to be reminded, that we’re not alone in this. It’s through our respective and collective efforts and the sharing of our individual stories, that we’re able to process our own experiences and help make it better for others. We can celebrate each other’s successes and learn from each other, all the while, shifting the traditional whispers of desperation and shame, into unabashed roars and unified calls to MAKE IT BETTER.
So, I come away from this year’s month of recognition inspired by the groundswell, and optimistic about the future of menopause for women and those affected by it. In the past year, we’ve seen more women-led, mid-life focused ventures emerge: more digital clinics and health providers, like Vera, Femality Health and Evernow; more information and content producers, like Alva, Gen M and Menopause What Works?; more research, like FemAging 2020 and Women Living Better; more influencers and advocates, like Omisade Burney-Scott and Karen Arthur; more wellness products and services, like State of Menopause and Tabu; and more mentors and advisors, like Charlie Harris Reid and Pamela Windle. All leading to greater coverage by the mainstream media and awareness among investors.
No doubt, we’re making progress -- and with all of this “more,” the needs and stories of women of color around the world are still disappointingly under-served and under-represented. So, my hope – and growing expectation – is that the year ahead will bring us more Black, Latina, and Asian voices who are not only contributing to the conversations on menopause, but shaping, influencing and benefitting from the billion dollar marketplace it represents.
*Note: I was last week years old (i.e., 46) before I learned that menarche is pronounced MEN-ar-kee and NOT Men-arch. Not sure why, but my mind was kinda blown and I felt compelled to share.