Winner of STARTS Cross Fertilization 2023
Society started calling women witches when they noticed their ability to heal, cure and care for themselves and branded this behavior as a criminal act. Since then societies around the globe created a culture of shame and silence around female bodies which led to historical underfunding of vaginal health and systematic poorer health outcomes for those with a vulva. This has been compounded by social taboos around intimate health which additionally limit women from accessing knowledge, connecting with their body and learning about their vulvas and vaginas. Simple things such as knowing the genitals, interpreting fluids, recognizing ovulation and observing the cervix are considered experts’ skills.
Over the last 2 years, ALMA team has been running 13 workshops across the globe to listen to women’s stories about practices, culture and language in intimate health. This work has highlighted two key barriers in the current education and self-discovery process: the disconnection between information and body, and the lack of a safe inclusive space for people to share and co-create knowledge.
ALMA Toolkit wants to tackle these challenges by co-creating a self-exploration toolkit for people with a vulva that enables them to transform their knowledge into active and physical practices. We imagine to co-create the Toolkit providing tools to self-explore vulvas, monitor vaginal fluids and learn how to balance the vaginal microbiome. All the tools will be developed using circular design and citizen science principles.
The Toolkit goal is to create a novel paradigm to break the taboos, self-explore and connect people with their body and their vulva. Current education material struggles to translate the taught knowledge into profound physical experiences that allow people to develop practical intimate practices. Social taboos dictate that current learning experiences are often not interactive and limit sharing of knowledge between people.
In 2016 we presented Future Flora (Starts Prize 2018) - a kit, proposing a speculative biohacking scenario on growing healthy vaginal bacteria at home to balance the intimate microbiome. Its narrative joined the ongoing global discussion about claiming back the female bodies - arguably even a new wave of feminism, marked primarily by the importance of social media and self-organization. Future Flora was not meant as a real product but rather a conversation starter about female intimate care, which it successfully did (Dezeen, MAK DesignLab Permanent Collection). In this context, we started Alma - a wearable pH sensor to monitor vaginal fluids and prevent early bacterial infections (Re-Fream, Vision Health Pioneers, NANODTC University of Cambridge) as an attempt to bring a real product to the market.
All self-exploration begins with self-consciousness, a political practice originated by feminist collectives in the 1960s in which skills, experiences and information related to the body and sexuality are shared.
A card game aims to support groups of women* and people subjected to medical patriarchy to share and reconstruct their individuality.