An islander who has tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of the struggles of the menopause and how it affects women in the workplace has been announced as Jersey's 'Inspirational Woman of the Year'.
The award, presented at an International Women’s Day event, was initially founded by Soroptimist International Jersey (SIJ) in 1998 as the 'Woman in the Community Award', before being relaunched by Jersey Women’s Refuge (JWR) in March 2021 in partnership with SIJ.
This year’s winner was the island's ‘Mrs Menopause’, Trudi Roscouet, a local wellness coach and the founder of Vitality40plus.
Pictured: Trudi Roscouet, the recipient of this year's Award, is aiming to break the taboo around the menopause.
The award celebrates those who have overcome obstacles in life and made a difference in the community. Other criteria for nominations included that the women were:
Speaking to Express after winning, Trudi said: "I'm not often shocked for words, but I was speechless. It was not expected at all, and I was so touched. The relationship between the Soroptimists, my nan, who was one of my major mentors and SIJ President in the 1960s, and the Refuge, has made this a very special day."
Trudi has years of experience in the health and fitness industry and specialises in women and children's fitness. Her life, research, and career took a turn, however, when "menopause came as something out of the blue, personally and professionally."
"In 2019, I was going through my own menopause, when I was diagnosed on the way to my new life in Spain. I realised as a health and fitness coach for the last ten years, that although I had taught loads of women, I had actually never known anything about the menopause."
"At the time, I was experiencing weight gain, and I didn't know what was happening. When I got locked down in Spain, I did some research into what was causing this weight loss."
"When I came back, I started with Kleinwort Hambros and they asked if I wanted to do some menopause coaching. Then they asked me if I wanted to do it for other firms too, and that's how I began corporate menopause coaching."
Trudi soon became known as 'Mrs Menopause', as she was the main trainer employed by companies in the Island and an ambassador for the 51 Employees Pledge, which gives organisations the opportunity to sign a 14-point promise to make their workplace menopause friendly.
In addition, she founded the Menopause Forum, which is a collaboration between Trudi and GPs, looking at the medical and holistic lifestyle of the menopause. "It is open to any women going through any part of the transition of menopause. We talk about all kinds of things relating to the menopause."
Her most recent achievement came in January, when a series of large companies in Jersey agreed to offer female employees aged 45 and over a thorough wellbeing check to prevent them exiting their careers early due to menopausal symptoms, after a report by women's right charity The Fawcett Society revealed that more than a tenth of the female workforce left prematurely due to the menopause. The Women's Well-being 40Plus Health Check is the first time that medical and lifestyle consultations will be offered as part of a well-being package.
Trudi said: "the menopause does not just affect a woman medically; it is a whole lifestyle change and new phase. The more we can get talking about it, the more that companies will open the door, and the better it is. We know that anxiety, insomnia, and brain fog, your three main issues of the menopause, all affect day-to-day life. We want to make sure that is addressed so that people can stay in their jobs and feel valued."
But she said there is still lots of action to be done. "I would like to have these health checks in the all the jurisdictions, I would like to work out of Dubai and Malta, as well as Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Gibraltar. In Jersey, I also want to encourage more companies to embrace it. We still get a lot of barriers and negativity, saying we're not ready for the menopause, but it's going to come whether you like it or not."
"I want to get companies to put it as a top priority, because there are so many psychological symptoms of the menopause. If you're talking about mental wellbeing, you need to address the whole spectrum."
Pictured: Jersey Women's Refuge sponsors the Award, in partnership with SIJ.
On International Women's Day, she hopes to celebrate the power and strength of women. "One of the things I talk about in the workplace is the number of older women who still need to be retained and supported in the workplace. They are very strong, empathetic leaders and we want to make sure that women feel safe, that they can talk menopause if they are struggling with issues."
Margot Kelly, Trudi's mum, said: "I have always been proud of her. When she started talking about the menopause, I wondered what she was doing. People my age are used to others saying, "Oh, it's just the menopause", but you think back and all the things that happened to you and the effects of the menopause, you didn't know about it at all. I have been to all of her meetings and there are women who have really been benefited from these talks."
The award was presented at an International Women's Day event centered around the theme "Preventing Domestic Abuse and Working towards Gender Equality" and focused on building workplaces where women thrive, celebrating women forging change, and taking action to prevent domestic abuse.
Sharing some insights into domestic abuse in Jersey, Lisa Leventhal, JWR's newly appointed CEO, highlighted that in 2022, "364 women and children were supported by our services, with 42 women and 33 children having sought safety at our safe house. As the only totally independent provider of support to women and children facing domestic abuse, it is really important that we share testimonies from survivors so that people can begin to understand the complexities of living in such situations."
At the event, which was facilitated by the JWR chair, Terry Morel, there was also a dialogue from Victoria College and Jersey College for Girls students on healthy relationships between young people, survivor testimonies, closing remarks from the Bailiff, and talks about how the corporate world is helping to identify domestic abuse and promote gender equality.
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