It’s officially been announced that a period emoji will be arriving to keyboards soon, after being given the go-ahead by Unicode, but it’s been a long time coming.
The emoji has been something children’s rights group, Plan International UK have been campaigning for since 2017, after a survey they ran revealed how much shame and stigma still impacts girls and women when it comes to conversations around menstruation. In the survey, 48 per cent of girls aged between 14 to 21 said they are embarrassed to talk about periods.
Realising emojis are fast becoming a growing global language, they felt having a period emoji would be a big step towards destigmatising menstruation and normalising conversations about periods.
Lucy Russell, head of girls’ rights and youth at Plan International UK, discussed the important move with Grazia UK saying: “The inclusion of an emoji which can express what 800 million women around the world are experiencing every month is a huge step towards normalising periods and smashing the stigma which surrounds them.
“For years we’ve obsessively silenced and euphemised periods. As experts in girls’ rights, we know that this has a negative impact on girls; girls feel embarrassed to talk about their periods, they’re missing out, and they can suffer health implications as a consequence.”
The blood drop emoji’s approval comes after originally being rejected by Unicode Consortium, the official body that manages emojis worldwide, arguably exemplifying the exact reason for the campaign.
Plan International UK had previously created five emoji concept designs and had asked people to cast their vote for their favourite. After an overwhelming response from more than 54,600 people, their ‘period pants’ design came out on top, which they then submitted to Unicode.
We are thrilled to announce that we are actually getting a #PeriodEmoji!
— PlanInternational UK (@PlanUK) February 6, 2019
The design was rejected by Unicode, but unwilling to give up the group teamed up with NHS blood to create the blood droplet emoji, and while it isn’t as explicitly linked to menstruation as the group would’ve liked, Carmen Barlow, digital strategy and development manager at Plan International UK tells Grazia UK it’s definitely a good start.
“I think the blood drop emoji is a great step in the right direction.
“It’s great that one of the terms against it is menstruation and that will be linked in that way, but we still have a long way to go to normalise periods so that a global body like the Unicode Consortium doesn’t shy away from calling something a period emoji and making it explicit[ly] that.”
The blood droplet emoji joins 229 other additions to the 12.0 release of emojis, set to be made available in March 2019.
Included in the new additions are a variety of disability-inclusive emojis, such as an ear with a hearing aid, men and women in wheelchairs, prosthetic arms and legs and guide and service dogs.
Words: Anya Truong-George
Photos: Getty Images, Twitter
This article originally appeared on Now to Love.