THIS year’s Inspirational Woman Award has been given to Jersey’s ‘Mrs Menopause’, Trudi Roscouet, for her work promoting issues of the menopause and how it affects women in the workplace.
The award, presented at an International Women’s Day event yesterday, celebrates women who have overcome adversity, made a difference in the community and supported women-related activities.
Ms Roscouet 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 detour, however, in 2019 when the ‘menopause came as something out of the blue, personally and professionally’.
She said: ‘I realised as a health and fitness coach for 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. I did some research into what was causing this weight gain and, when I returned, I started some meno-pause coaching at my own firm. Before long, I was asked if I wanted to do it for other firms too.’
Ms Roscouet soon became known as the Island’s ‘Mrs Menopause’, because she was the main trainer employed by companies and an ambassador for the 51 Employers Pledge, which gives organisations the chance to sign a 14-point promise to make their workplace meno-pause friendly.
She went on to found Vitality40plus, an online well-being coaching platform which raises awareness about the menopause, and The Menopause Forum, a collaboration with GPs which looks at the medical and holistic lifestyle of the menopause. She said: ‘It is open to any woman going through any part of the transition of menopause, and we talk about all kinds of things relating to the menopause.’
Her most recent achievement came in January, when a number of Island companies agreed to offer female employees aged 45 and over a thorough well-being check to prevent them ending their careers early due to the menopause.
Ms Roscouet said: ‘The menopause does not just affect a woman medically; it is a whole lifestyle change and new phase. We know that anxiety, insomnia and brain fog, your three main issues of the menopause, all affect day-to-day life. I want to get corporates to put it as a top priority, because there are so many psychological symptoms of the menopause.’
She added: ‘Older women need to be retained and supported in the workplace. They are strong, empathetic leaders and we want to make sure that women feel safe and that they can talk menopause if they are struggling with issues.’
Deputy Louise Doublet has previously said: ‘The menopause is a normal process that half the population go through. Given the staff shortages in many areas it is critical that efforts are made to retain staff.’
Ms Roscouet made it clear that the work is far from over, saying: ‘I would like to have these health checks in 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 corporates to embrace it. We still get a lot of barriers and negativity around the menopause, and the goal is to break that taboo.’
The International Women’s Day event focused on recognising abuse survivors, building workplaces where women thrive, and taking action to prevent domestic abuse.
Lisa Leventhal, newly appointed chief executive of the Jersey Women’s Refuge, said: ‘In 2022, 364 women and children were supported by our services. 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.’
The event, facilitated by JWR chair Terry Morel, included a talk with Victoria College and Jersey College for Girls students on healthy relationships, survivor testimonies, remarks from the Bailiff, and explanations of how the corporate world is helping to identify domestic abuse and promote gender equality.
The Inspirational Woman Award was founded by Soroptimist International Jersey in 1998 as the ‘Woman in the Community Award’, before being re-launched by Jersey Women’s Refuge last March in partnership with SIJ.
Speaking to the JEP after winning, Ms Roscouet 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 [Jersey Women’s] Refuge has made this a very special day.’