Annemarie Harant together with Bettina Steinbrugger co-founded Erdbeerwoche – a platform and online-shop for sustainable feminine hygiene – in 2011. Since then the duo is working towards the introduction of sustainable feminine hygiene products and breaking one of the last taboos of our society – menstrual taboo. In 2016 they gave a thought-provoking talk at TEDxDonauinsel. We recently met Annemarie to find out more about the changes they are seeking, inspiration and future perspectives.
1. One word that Annemarie’s best friend would use to describe her: COURAGEOUS
2. Favourite place: MY BALCONY
3. Annemarie’s best habit: HUMOR
4. The best idea people ever came up with: INTERNET
5. If she could choose one superpower it would be: BEAMING
Tell us what’s new? What changed since you gave a talk at TedxDonauinsel in 2016?
In September I and Bettina met one of the people responsible for reducing tampon tax in the State of New York (USA). They also launched an initiative of distributing free tampons at schools, homeless shelters and jails in the whole state. You know, it’s a good example for Austria.
We have started a petition to reduce tampon tax here in Austria and met some Austrian politicians to discuss this issue and try to find the best solution for it. It’s interesting how important right wording is when you are discussing topics related to menstruation. Every specific group of addressees requires specific wording. But if you talk to them openly, directly and honestly you get that openness back.
We are also launching a project that will focus on raising awareness on personal hygiene and menstruation for teenagers – both girls and boys.
If you could give your talk at TEDxDonauinsel now, would you change anything?
We’d definitely talk about the same topic, I mean the problem is still there, it hasn’t been solved yet. We’ll know that we’ve reached our goal when people turn to sustainable personal hygiene products and accept woman’s body as it is. It hasn’t happened yet, so we’re working on it.
Where do ideas come from?
I think in our case the idea came from seeing a problem and wanting to change things. Willingness to recognise existing problem is very important.
The right environment also plays a role. For example like here, at Social Impact Hub. You now, you need to have the right people around you, because every small discussion, every random meeting is important. All kinds of people are generating all kinds of ideas and when they come together something good is very likely to come out of it.
How do ideas turn into actions?
Behind those actions, there are always people who are willing to change something. We need to understand that every single human being can make a big difference.
Is there any brilliant piece of knowledge or wise advice you’d like to share with our community?
Annemarie’s favourite talk:
Annemarie’s & Bettina’s talk at TEDxDonauinsel: