On average, people who menstruate have their periods for 2,535 days of their lives—that’s almost seven years of bleeding. Menstrual health is linked to broader sexual and reproductive health, as well as one’s ability to participate fully in economic, civic, and social life. But periods remain stigmatized and overlooked as a site for research and innovation. We are going to change this.
There Will Be Blood is a weekend-long hackathon that will be held at at the MIT Media Lab on September 28 and 29, 2019. Our event offers both a celebration of menstruation and an opportunity for participants to engage with and advance menstrual equity and sexual wellness for everyone in the United States. Organized by Alexis Hope and Catherine D’Ignazio (co-founders of the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” project) and the MIT Center for Civic Media, There Will Be Blood will convene designers, engineers, companies and startups, investors, menstrual equity advocates, educators, legislators, and community-based organizations to fight stigma, catalyze change, and celebrate the beautiful, bleeding bodies of all people with periods.
Hackathon participants will be selected through an application process to compose a diverse and multidisciplinary group of innovators. Teams might work on projects like menstrual product design, diagnostic tools for gynecological health, period-tracking tools, period-friendly toilets, telehealth services for period support, technologies for period pain management, educational materials for different contexts and audiences, stigma-busting media, advocacy tools to fight for menstrual equity, designs to support menopause, and more. We are partnering with Period Equity, a leading menstrual equity advocacy organization led by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and Laura Strausfeld, to take on the policy side of this issue—There Will Be Blood will help lay the advocacy groundwork for a coordinated, state-level campaign to repeal the “tampon tax” in early 2020.
Our Core Values
We design for equity.
Periods are not experienced equally. People without financial resources, trans and non-binary people, people with disabilities, unhoused people, and people who are incarcerated face many more barriers to having a safe and healthy period, accessing health information, and finding affordable products and services to meet their needs. With that in mind, we seek to uplift and center marginalized voices in our design spaces.
We are inclusive and collaborative.
We believe that the best solutions are found when people come together across lines of difference to imagine and build the future. To innovate for equity, it is imperative that we collaborate with a variety of stakeholders: people who menstruate (or people who used to), designers, engineers, policy makers, nonprofits, companies, and more.
We hack tampons and we hack systems.
Menstrual health is linked to broader sexual and reproductive health as well as one’s ability to participate fully in economic, civic, and social life. Improving menstrual health is not just about products (although that certainly can help!), but requires us to also focus on reducing shame and stigma, reforming inequitable policies, creating a diversity of educational materials, and more.
We value low-tech, community-led innovation.
“Innovations” don’t have to be high tech to improve menstrual health for all of us. We use our own definition of innovation and prioritize creations that are culturally appropriate, sustainable, and come from communities themselves. We believe people have unique expertise in prioritizing their needs and identifying viable solutions for themselves and their communities.
Adapted from the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” project