Period poverty, period dignity and menstrual education comes under spotlight in new film created by Edinburgh Napier students

Date posted

19 May 2021


A documentary that captures a three-year long campaign by students and staff at Edinburgh Napier to raise awareness of period poverty will be premiered this week. 

‘Bleeding Free’ will premiere online this Thursday (20 May) at 7pm. 

The documentary captures the work and campaigning of Bleedin’ Saor – a collective consisting of Product Design, Film and TV students as well as staff members from the University’s School of Arts and Creative Industries. 

Bleedin’ Saor (saor translates to the English word ‘free’) was formed in early 2019 to combat menstrual myths and break the ‘silence of menstruation’ in order to create a long-lasting impact for young people and their communities.  

The documentary – which was filmed, edited and produced by students and staff from Edinburgh Napier – looks at topics such as period poverty, period dignity and menstrual education both in Scotland and overseas in Uganda. 

The collective visited Uganda in 2019 as it took its campaign to East Africa to join the global efforts in the menstrual movement. The Bleedin Saor team stop for a photo during trip to Uganda

The 10-day trip saw the group meet with and interview members of a number of organisations within the country who are fighting for better period product provision, gender equality and women’s’ rights. 

The team met staff at the Girl Up Initiative which aims to empower women and girls through menstrual education, including taking their message out onto the streets of Kampala. The collective also viewed menstrual health workshops in primary schools and saw first hand how social enterprises producing re-usable sanitary pads can help sustain local communities as well as enable girls to stay in school longer. 

The trip also saw the Bleedin’ Saor team meet up with Irise International which aims to create menstruation friendly schools in Uganda. With the charity, the team met with elders who support women and girls in their communities and presented their own ideas to a primary school in Buwenge, a town in the Eastern region of Uganda.

Closer to home, the documentary also captures the work of the collective and its three designers – Sam Calder, Hannah Stevens and Brogan Henderson – as they worked with the University and the Hey Girls social enterprise to design two new period product dispensers. 

The final design has been used by Edinburgh Napier to make period products free to all who need them within the University’s campuses and will soon be installed in schools, colleges and universities across the country. The free products at Edinburgh Napier have been made available thanks to Scottish Government funding. 

The Bloody Big Brunch event hosted by Bleedin’ Saor at all three of Edinburgh Napier’s campuses in early 2019 - which saw guests pay for entry to the brunch through donating period products rather than money - is also revisited in the film. 

The premiere of the documentary had been delayed previously as a result of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, but the team is delighted to now be able to revisit its campaign with a wider audience. Bleeding Free premiere promo graphic

Dr Kirsten Macleod, programme leader of the BA (Hons) Television programme at Edinburgh Napier and Executive Producer of the film, said: “We are so pleased to be able to share this film and showcase how Scotland is leading the world in providing free access to period products alongside the amazing work being done here and in Uganda on menstrual education and support. This is a global issue that will change the lives of millions of women and girls.”

Lena Brosselin from the Bleeding Free team said: “It has been fantastic to work towards a very inspiring piece of work which will hopefully empower women and girls to open up about menstrual taboo. This film, with no doubt, will make peace with how our periods are shaped by stigma and shame.”

The entire Bleedin’ Saor project has been co-ordinated by Product Design lecturer, Ruth Cochrane, Dr. Kirsten Macleod and School of Arts and Creative Industries’ placements officer, Lindsay Morgan. It has received funding from Santander Mobility Grants and other funding initiatives.

More information on the Bleeding Free documentary and information on how to reserve your ticket to the premiere can be found here.

More information on the wider Bleedin’ Saor collective can be found here.