Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sheros

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s not every day that you get to meet one of your all-time heroes, but it happened to me just last weekend when journalist Stephanie Nolen was briefly in Vancouver.

2014 11 09 14.01.56 1024x7641 300x226 Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sherosThanks to my Mother’s influence I have been a Globe and Mail reader for most of my life. Stephanie’s writing first came to my attention when she donned a hijab and headed to out to cover the invasion of Afghanistan and fall of the Taliban.

Her knack for illustrating a macro-truth based on one person’s story immediately moved me, as well as her particular interest in the situation of girls and women. She was my kind of hero: brave, hugely talented, social justice-minded and up for adventure. As I said to Suzanne at the time, if I wasn’t already lucky enough to get to be me, I’d want to be Stephanie.

Speaking last weekend at a gathering hosted by 60 Million Girls, a Canadian charity that takes its name from the number of girls deprived of education in the developing world, Stephanie chose to focus on the story of some remarkable students and one determined activist at two unique schools in rural Bihar state in Northern India, taking as her starting point how “laughter and dignity”, as much as careers, independence and a wealthier and healthier life, are what girls miss out on when denied access to schooling. (The full story, including multiple feature articles and audi slideshows, are here.)

It was a point that landed well with the audience of seasoned leaders, educators and philanthropists already well aware of the benefits of educating girls. Stephanie first encountered the Prerna School for Mahadalit girls and its intrepid founder Sudha Varghese thanks to a tip from a friend. Following a lengthy search, she finally pushed open an unassuming gate and witnessed a rare sight in rural India: a green schoolyard of laughing, playing girls. The girls greeted her with a polite salutation before carrying on with their games, itself highly unusual for a tall, lone, female foreigner who typically drew curious crowds, not to mention low-caste girls, who would normally have shied away.

2014 11 09 15.30.25 300x2241 300x228 Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sherosIn and of themselves a rarity in India in general, these particular schoolgirls were an especially unlikely find, being as they are from the bottom of India’s caste system (“Mahadalit” basically translates as “lowest of the low”). “These girls have basically lost the global lottery,” in terms of social privilege, she explained, and was astounded to find an entire school dedicated to nourishing and educating them.

She went on to share Sudha’s story of determining to become as nun as one of the few ways to lead an independent life as a woman, learning of the plight of the Dalit people (also commonly known as “untouchable”) and determining to do what she could to support the most marginalized among them: girls.

Prerna means “inspiration”: the name of the school she founded on a shoestring in 2006, and inspiring indeed is the tale of how one woman has singlehandedly created two schools that now house and educate almost 200 girls. One of the most striking curriculum items is karate, a program where the girls have excelled to the point of winning local, state and even competitions in Japan!

Despite this extraordinary success, there are still massive challenges to be faced: often Prerna students are forced to get married when they return home to see their families, a common practice among their unschooled peers. Stephanie explained that while to Westerners the technically illegal practice of marrying off girls under 18 (most are married by the time they are 13) seems patently barbaric, to their parents it is doing their best to protect their daughters’ futures. Furthermore, while the Prerna girls may be getting an education, the rest of their society still sees them as inferior by virtue of both class and gender: what opportunities will they realistically have?

Lakshmi wants to be a judge, and Gunia, a teacher. Thanks to people like Sudha and Stephanie, they are far closer to those worthy goals than they ever would have been otherwise. Here’s hoping that they are the tip of a massive landslide of educated girls who fulfill the promise of the “Incredible India!” tourist billboards. Oh and hey: it only costs $200 to support one of Sudha’s students for a year. Email Stephanie if you want to help:


Margaret Cho Rocks Lunapads

Friday, November 7th, 2014 by Suzanne

lunagalscho 1024x882 Margaret Cho Rocks Lunapads

Madeleine and I have a lot to be thankful for for these days. One of the #1 reasons Lunapads has been a success is due to the hard work, dedication and brilliant minds behind our team. So, when I heard that Margaret Cho was coming to Vancouver, it seemed like a great way to thank the gang for their efforts and go on a Lunapads Staff outing! We adore Margaret for her fierce talent and vocal support of women and LGBTQ rights. Plus, she’s kick ass funny as hell.

Leading up to the event, we used Twitter to reach out to Margaret, who is not shy about talking about vaginas and periods. We wondered “does she know about our products” and “is she a fan”? We could only hope. She replied to one of our tweets with the hashtag #giftbasket. Ready with a gift basket full of Lunapads goodies, we wondered “How will we get it to her? Will it happen during the show”?

The big event finally arrived, and we eagerly gathered in our seats. The opening act featured actress/comedian/dancer Selene Luna, who immediately treaded into a topical conversation about sex and consent. Right now in Canada, we are reading stories daily about the evolving scandal around Jian Ghomeshi. As uncomfortable as the subject and jokes were, both Selene and Margaret shared very personal stories about their own experiences of sexual abuse and expressed their anger against those who perpetrate violence.


Announcing G Day for Girls!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Madeleine

Telling you about G Day feels like a combination of my birthday, a weekend and every holiday I’ve ever anticipated. It’s a new creative project that I have had in my heart and mind since I was a little girl.

As a girl, I was awed by the idea of becoming an adult woman. Like Margaret in Judy Blume’s classic Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was obsessed with all the details, particularly menstruation, and on a semiconscious level I hoped that there would be some sort of fanfare when the momentous time came.

The obvious aside, nothing happened, and I was left with a sense of deep disappointment. Not that I could have told you what exactly I had imagined might happen – I just wanted other people to acknowledge in some way that what was happening to me was special, because I sure thought it was.

I was reminded of these feelings early last year, when I was invited to speak at Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver as part of a Special Edition created in partnership with Women Transforming Cities. At first I thought it was a bit weird to be thinking about my work in an urban context, and then I remembered my girlhood dream, and landed on the idea of creating modern Red Tents where we could bring our daughters to celebrate them when they entered adolescence.


I Met My Hero: Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Magazine

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 by Guest

rookietavi I Met My Hero: Tavi Gevinson of Rookie MagazineGuest Post by Alysha Seriani

A few weekends ago, I met my personal hero: Tavi Gevinson. Blogger, actor, style icon, feminist, model, singer, and founding editor‐in‐chief of — the ultimate media source aimed at teen girls that reaches much further than the target audience.

Alongside my introduction to feminism, I found Rookie in the fall of 2011. This was also the start of my last year of high school in a particularly benighted small town. Two years later, I remain an avid fan‐girl of what is surely the blueprint of a new era of feminism: one that chooses to be a drawing board rather than a rulebook.  In the past month alone, Rookie’s posts range from dealing with bullying to DIY pet photo shoots.

Whilst perusing its pages one day, I first stumbled upon Lunapads! First seen in this Just Wondering column in 2012,  I was convinced to try The DivaCup for the first time — I’ve been loving it ever since. This same article links fellow Rookie readers to, and recommends Lunapanties to the inquiring girl who may fear tampons and overnight leakage.

Best of all: using a reusable cup like this is good for the environment, and keeps money out of the big, male-run corporations that sell women tampons—corporations that put bleach in tampons, and advertisers that tell us our natural vaginas are disgusting and need to be scented with “deodorizers.”  Read Just Wondering at

With three posts every weekday and daily posts on weekends, I can hardly keep up with the endless amounts of amazing Rookie content constantly coming my way. This brings me to the manifestation of Rookie’s second annual accomplishment: Rookie Yearbook Two! Compiling the past ten months of incredible content — adding some loot such as cootie catchers, DIY shrines, and stickers galore — I was a sucker for this anthology, and pulled every string I could to get to the book launch in Seattle.


Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Monday, October 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

group1 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful I am still buzzing from my time in beautiful Boulder CO at last weekend’s stellar Emerging Women Live conference. There have already been a ton of great posts recapping talks and performances by the likes of Ani DiFrancoElizabeth GilbertAlanis Morissette and Brené Brown.

While I did glean incredible takeaways and inspiration from these well-known gals, I’d like to talk about some of the lesser-known women involved with the conference: some presenters I had never previously heard of, other attendees, and the event organizers.

I’ll start with someone close to home: one of my fantastic roommates, Emira Mears (left). You know the bliss of being with a longtime friend/colleague/co-conspirator who totally gets you, and yet you don’t get to see nearly often enough? That. To get to have numerous thoughtful conversations punctuated with spots of dancing and shopping over the period of a few days was pure pleasure, and epitomized for me the spirit of #EWLive13: Sisterhood.

Emira and I shared our room and camaraderie seamlessly with the brilliant and highly entertaining Melody Biringer (right), the serial entrepreneur, CRAVE and Urban Campfire founder and author of Craving Success. Our collective energy was an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial tips, connections and spicy anecdotes, with a side of powerful family & relationship sharing. This pic of us with our beloved shero Eve Ensler pretty much tells the story.

Moving on to a couple of the people who made it all possible in the first place, a deep bow to you, Chantal Pierrat. Emira and I have known Chantal since 2004 when we all attended SVI – Women at Hollyhock. We’ve all come a long way since then and were completely blown away by Chantal’s vision, presence and and flat-out fabulousness as she hosted us. A further deep bow is due to (I am making this title up) Operations Priestess Karna Liv Nau, whose meticulous attention to detail was matched only by the genuine love and care that she brought to attending to I can only imagine how many details and personalities.

Spending time with Tami Simon (founder of Sounds True, Chantal’s former employer, center) was another precious moment. She was also at the 2004 event with Chantal, and Emira and I had the benefit of receiving her deep, heartfelt and highly conscious thoughts on the upcoming 2014 Vancouver SVI – Women conference that we are planning.

group2 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Some other particularly meaningful connections for me included the searing soul searcher Sera Beak (check out her books The Red Book and Red, Hot & Holy: a Heretic’s Love Story), the perpetually radiant Amber Krzys (we are massive fans of her BodyHeart program), The Right Brain Business Plan author Jennifer Lee and the lovely Sara Avant Stover, whose extraordinary book the Way of the Happy Woman I am close to finishing reading and will share about at greater length very soon.

I myself was invited to lead a dinner conversation on the topic of “Scaling Your Business” with an incredible group of entrepreneurs. Our conversation rapidly evolved from sharing our respective goals to an extraordinarily powerful and deeply personal connection. I am talking BIG MAGIC.

My final virtual namaste goes to Melinda, a woman I met on the first afternoon at a “power circle”, where we connected with a small group prior to moving into the larger experience. Over dinner she shared with me and another member of the group that she had always had trouble embracing relationships with other women. As we ate, we learned her story, and in turn shared our own experiences in service of her quest to connect. It was another classic Sisterhood moment: women witnessing, supporting and lifting one another up: Emerging together.

Emerging Women Live!

Friday, September 6th, 2013 by Madeleine

ewlive Emerging Women Live!

It’s such a great buzz when a bunch of your favourite things converge. Here are 3 of mine: relationships, powerful women, and events.

Given this, it will come as no surprise that I kind of freaked out when I heard about Emerging Women Live (October 10-13, Boulder CO). Hearing the speaker lineup was kind of like a feminist version of celebrity fireworks: Ani DiFranco (boom!), Elizabeth Gilbert (boom!), Alanis Morissette (boom!), Sobonfu Some (boom!), Brené Brown (boom-boom!) and so on. Just hearing these names as a list made me wonder whether Hilary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg might just show up for some girlfriend time: stunning!!!

Then I learned that the creative force behind it was none other than Chantal Pierrat, a longtime colleague who I met for the first time at SVI-Women at Hollyhock in 2004. (As it happens, I recently co-produced SVI-Women in Vancouver.) At the time, Chantal was the Sales & Marketing Director for Sounds True, working with one of my all-time entrepreneur sheros, Tami Simon.

It turns out that Chantal’s entrepreneurial spirit was lit as she listened to the stories of the circle of women business owners who gathered together to learn from and empower one another in our journeys. After close to decade with Sounds True, Chantal felt called to create her own venture, marrying her interest in personal growth and progressive entrepreneurship to create an event dedicated to what she calls “feminine leadership”.

All of this is to say: I can’t wait!! Lunapads is a Marketing Partner and will be providing beautiful gifts to all of the participants. If you’re there, please be sure to say hello. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Chantal, and the ripples that the event itself will create. Hope to see you in Boulder!

Projecting Change & Girl Rising

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by Madeleine

staycurious Projecting Change & Girl Rising

Here in Vancouver, Lunapads is part of a vast web of changemaking people and organizations. Having the opportunity to creatively collaborate with them is one of our greatest pleasures, and we are thrilled to announce what just might be the best one yet!

Pads4Girls, our commitment to supporting the education (and therefore liberation) of girls, dates back to 2000. Over the years we have been thrilled to see the emergence of studies, groups and media that share our passion for creating a better future for girls. We have particularly anticipated the release of Girl Rising, a powerful and innovative new feature film that spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. Girl Rising is the centerpiece of 10×10, a global campaign to educate and empower girls.

Given that some of the fabulous people and organizations who we spoke of earlier include Katie Schaeffers, ED of the Projecting Change Film Festival and Sharon Davis, Leader of the Vancouver Chapter of Room to Read, it seemed like a natural thing to do to get together to support the Vancouver premiere of Girl Rising as part of PCFF’s programming. We are beyond thrilled that the film will be the centerpiece of the festival’s closing night screening & gala.

Girl Rising tells the story of girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from a life in the garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who writes songs that help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian “pavement-dweller” whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter’s dreams.

Each girl is paired with a renowned writer from her native country, and their stories are narrated by celebrated actresses including Cate Blanchett, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek (Peru) and Meryl Streep.

As an added super bonus (and yet more fabulous Vancouver colleagues!), the evening will also feature a screening of Global Sorority, a film created by Loretta Cella of the Passion Foundation, a longtime Pads4Girls supporter and changemaker who has touched the lives of thousands of girls here in the lower mainland, as well as overseas with her powerful teaching, coaching and programming.

Hurry – tickets are going fast. See you there!

We Heart BodyHeart!

Monday, March 18th, 2013 by Madeleine

bodyheart mads We Heart BodyHeart!

My temporary tattoo has now completely faded away, however it seems like just a few days ago that Amber Krzys was here in Vancouver brightening up our dreary, rain-soaked winter with her fantastic smile and contagious energy.

As can often be the case with beautiful visions, Amber’s BodyHeart movement was borne of a painful personal journey. As a girl, Amber’s heart’s desire was to be a dancer. The culture of dance, however, wanted Amber, specifically Amber’s body, to be different: namely taller and thinner. For years Amber tried endless diets in an effort to conform to an impossible standard. The toll of all this self-rejection finally came to a head when she embarked upon a year-long experiment to see whether she could learn to love herself exactly as she was.


An International Women’s Day Gratitude List

Friday, March 8th, 2013 by Madeleine

543797 477570302289252 321940616 n An International Womens Day Gratitude List

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s an odd mix of “hooray, yay us!” (and a great excuse for a sale – woot!) and a weary taking stock of how far we still have to go. What I have to offer on this day is a gratitude list. Thank you for:

  1. Fighting back with love. We’re angry about violence against women too, and today is a great opportunity to talk about it. I am still in awe of the healing power of channeling rage through dance that we witnessed as organizers and participants in the recent Vancouver One Billion Rising event. Thank you Theresa, Navi, Lucky and Sheila for sharing your incredible gifts to make magic as part of a global movement on that day.
  2. Goddesses. Thank you Nikiah Seeds of Red Moon Designs for your support and leadership as we integrate spiritual practice into our business. Thank you Kate Muker of Conscious Divas for modelling the principles of inner truth, devotion and acceptance and inviting us into your community. Andrea St. Jules and her gorgeous Graceful Warriors workshop series for women is yet another example of the healing power of honouring the divine feminine.
  3. AFRIpads. Of all of the multitude of relationships that the Lunapads and Pads4Girls journeys have brought us, you are shining stars. Sonia and Paul, we are beyond proud to support (and be supported by!) you today and always.
  4. Girls. To you, we dedicate the future. Please stay as brave, fierce, unashamed and curious as you are now.
  5. Girlfriends. Thank you Suzanne, Signy, Hilary, Emira, Mary, Kate, Carrie and so many others. You hold dreams, gently witness failings, and reflect fabulousness.
  6. Lunagals. There are few greater honors than being granted the gift of someone’s labor. Thank you Lisa, Morgan, Christa, Kitty, Goni, Anika and Yvette, as well as all our our employees of the past. Your dedication, smarts, creativity, patience and love for our products, customers and message have made this company what it is today: a flourishing bastion of freedom, creativity, innovation and celebration.
  7. Men (and a few boys). Thank you Tim, Craig, Aiden, Garret, Cory, Henry, Paul, Warren, Bix, Darrell, Duncan, Joel, Bob, Evan, Jon, Jason, Mark, Mike, Marc, Rene and many more for everything from putting up shelves to love, support and great business advice.
  8. Community. The Lunagals enjoy the support of a vast network of peers, friends and colleagues who show up for us in a multitude of ways. We are truly blessed by the likes of Louise, Sarah, Denise & Marni, Beth & Jacqui, Maggie, Monica, Dana, Deena, Emily, Donovan, Mike, Toby, Wendy, Sharon, Christine, Felicia, Danielle, Judy, Jill, Tracy, Felice, Sapna, etc etc.
  9. Customers: what an amazing, diverse bunch of fabulous individuals. Thank you for your love, feedback, support and above all trusting us with your very personal needs and stories.
  10. Feminism. I actually can’t wait to be done with feminism, however as long as girls are still being shot for wanting to go to school, violence against girls and women remains epidemic and systemic, and political and economic differences leave so many of us oppressed and underrepresented, it’s a banner that I will continue to carry, proudly, and in the name of love, justice and equality for all. Thank you to our unabashedly feminist media partners BUST and Bitch magazines, for the incredible work that you do.

Happy International Women’s Day, y’all!


Lunapads Rocks Pecha Kucha

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by Madeleine

I have been an avid attendee of the Vancouver chapter of Pecha Kucha for the past couple of years, and was thrilled to be asked to speak as part of Volume 26, presented jointly with Women Transforming Cities, a local group dedicated to examining how urban spaces can be more girl- and woman-friendly.

For those of you new to “PK Night”, it’s a highly engaging speaking format where each presenter chooses 20 slides that typically represent why they do the work they do, which are then set on a timer to allow 20 seconds of speaking time per slide: kind of an ADD version of a TED talk.

I was nervous, and had never spoken in front of anywhere close to the evening’s sold-out 1200 seats. Inspired by the preceding 10 incredible speakers whose topics ranged from women’s roller derby teams, to violence and safety, urban planning, alternative transportation, historical preservation and more, I stepped up to the stage and gave it my all. I am frankly still buzzing from the positive reception and feedback (they laughed, they cried!) for my personal story that illustrates what makes Lunapads tick, even almost 20 years after I first started developing the products.

You will not regret spending the next 7 minutes of your life watching this, especially if you have ever been an adolescent girl excited about the prospect of becoming a woman. If it lands for you, please share widely – it’s a sweet, funny and highly personal way to tell your friends what Lunapads is all about: enjoy!