Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick took to the stage at Thurso’s We WANT Festival to share her own experience and reflections on women’s health.

Speaking at the event, she said:

“I think even a few years ago, a politician talking about their periods would have been quite a strange thing.  I’m really glad that it’s not anymore.  I’m on the Women’s Health CPG in the Scottish Parliament, and I get to chat with amazing women about menstruation, menopause, men, and so much more.  It makes a huge difference when you’re able to be open about these things.

“Far too often, young women and girls, and others experiencing abnormal pain and bleeding for the very first time, are subject to the same old story – they tell their parent or carer something’s wrong, and are taken to the doctor, who tells them it’s a normal part of growing up, and they are sent away with a cheeky eyeroll and a knowing smile, told to use a hot water bottle and paracetamol, or maybe some mefenamic acid if they’re lucky.

“A lot of us believed them when they told us this pain, which made us vomit and curl up on the cold bathroom floor covered in sweat, is just something that happens. Which makes sense – it is a conclusion perfectly consistent with everything else we were taught up to that point.  Women have to grow up with misogyny, with being talked over constantly and laughed at for trying to take control over our own bodies. We’re even told things like “don’t be upset, that boy is only punching you in the face because he likes you”.  No wonder we accept so easily that it’s normal to be in agony, too!”

Following her visit, Emma added:

“Going through tough medical ordeals can be really isolating, so it was such a special experience to attend the We WANT Festival and share bad experiences with other women from across the country who really get it.  Huge congratulations and thanks have to go to Kirsteen Campbell for all her work in organising this event and supporting women across the North Highlands and beyond.”