Army&You spoke to Mo Bingham – the founder of the MOD Menopause Network and winner of a Women in Defence Unsung Heroine Award…

Please tell us about your background

I have been a Crown Servant for almost 40 years and in the MOD for about 35. Working mostly in logistics, I’ve been proud to support military and civilian colleagues. I currently work in Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) as a Supply Chain Manager.

How did the Menopause Network come about?

Like many, I was faced with loads of symptoms, some of which scared me, and I didn’t know who to go to. I was dismayed that no-one spoke openly about menopause and I didn’t want anyone else to feel alone and confused like I had, so I started talking and haven’t really stopped.

It started with a small event as part of the Women’s Network at DE&S. The appetite to know more was incredible and so I found myself talking to senior MOD leaders.

After the event we realised there was a need for a safe space for people to just talk and the network was created in early 2020. Then COVID-19 hit and that improved our reach as we were completely virtual and people were able to join us from across the world.

How has the network grown since then?

Initially we were amazed that we had more than 400 members quite quickly, we now have more than 2,000.

Who does it support?

The network aims to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace and is inclusive of civilian and military colleagues. It offers a safe place for support and resources, although we don’t provide HR or medical advice. The network aspires to challenge perceptions and influence policy and guidance.

How do you encourage people to join?

Through word of mouth or through events. We are starting to see managers referring people to us now, which is great.

Do you work with charities or other relevant organisations?

I am also an executive committee member of the pan civil service Cross Government Menopause Network. The departments collaborate with each other to influence direction for menopause and we were involved in the pan civil service menopause policy. We also work with the Charity for Civil Servants which has supported us with World Menopause Day events.

Have you had any feedback from members?

Someone once said to me: “Take a moment to step back and reflect on just how much you have achieved by being you, not accepting the way things are and changing so much for so many. You really are Defence’s menopause revolutionary!”. Another said: “I am so pleased that I logged into that Menopause Network dial-in session two years ago and connected with you and all of our fantastic people who have one common purpose, to understand, live with and share the menopause in a more open and collective way.”

It must have been a hugely proud moment receiving the Women in Defence award…

It was, I’m still awed by it. It was recognition that talking about menopause was the right thing to do. Since then more people are talking and I just love it when menopause crops up as part of general conversation, in books and on TV.

What plans do you have for the future?

Hopefully as time goes on we will make ourselves redundant with everyone talking about menopause in conversation! We’re still not there quite yet though so the network can continue to empower others to talk and raise awareness.

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