International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world on March 8. While the holiday was originally intended as a day to honor working women in predominantly socialist and communist countries, it was adopted by the feminist movement in 1967 and is today universally observed in recognition of how far women have come or, in some countries, to protest just how far gender equality still has to go.
On this day of paying homage to women’s achievements past and present, we’ve rounded up some innovations that represent the future — products designed to ease the physical pains that come with being a woman while lessening the taboos that continue to persist surrounding menstruation, breastfeeding, and women’s sexual health.
Here, 5 amazing innovations, designed for women, by women in the Czech Republic:
These sustainable period-proof underwear, which can fully replace disposable tampons and pads, were invented by young entrepreneur Linda Šejdová, who was so dissatisfied with the feminine hygiene products she was using, she decided to invent her own.
With the help of Czech nanotechnology experts, Šejdová created Snuggs, panties lined with an absorption layer that lasts up to 8-12 hours and can be washed and reused.
So far Snuggs have been ordered by 6,000 satisfied customers. Šejdová told Czech Crunch she hopes the product “has the potential to transform a sector that isn’t often spoken about.”
Whoop.de.doo began life as the master’s thesis of its creator, then Czech design student Anna Marešová. It quickly garnered significant buzz, winning the 2011 National Prize for Student Design. In 2016 it won an International Red Dot Award.
Marešová’s collection also includes Venus Balls, designed to increase circulation and sensitivity in the pelvic floor. This year as part of its ongoing focus on women’s health, the brand will release a reusable menstrual cup. A vibrating egg that can be used for both vaginal and clitoral stimulation is currently in development.
The entire line was created with input from gynecologists and sexologists.
Public breastfeeding in the Czech Republic has recently had its detractors, although in general when it comes to public breastfeeding acceptance the country is typically not as conservative about it as elsewhere the world (looking at you, USA).
In 2018, Prague-based design studio 52 Hours (led by Croatian designer Ivana Preiss, the only non-Czech on our list) introduced the world to its “Heer breastfeeding bench” telling design blog Dezeen that “Although breastfeeding in public is becoming increasingly accepted, for various cultural, psychological or other reasons many mothers still feel uneasy about it.”
The contraption, which looks like a giant swiveling teacup attached to a sleek L-shaped bench is meant to be installed in shopping malls, parks, airports, and other public spaces. It won a RedDot design award in 2019.
Jana Drexlerova, CEO of nonprofit breast cancer advocacy group Mamma HELP, a counseling and support center in Prague, underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2011.
She discovered that enjoying many of her favorite foods, let alone drinking beer, was out of the question while she was undergoing treatment due to extreme nausea and food aversion that is a side effect of chemo.
In early 2018, she and her team got together with Zatec brewery to develop an alcohol-free beer fortified with potassium and vitamin B that helps ease the queasiness associated with chemotherapy, while giving women back a sense of normalcy in their lives.
Mamma Beer is currently making the rounds of the Czech beer festivals; small batches are from time to time available at pharmacies as the organization seeks wider production and distribution.
In 2019, Czech designer Veronika Bijok received a rather unusual commission: to create a dress for her client to give birth in. Speaking to Czech Design magazine the accomplished dressmaker, who uses traditional materials such as lace in her stunning modern wedding-dress designs, said:
“It was surprising for me. But the client who ordered them told me that there was always something inherited from mother to daughter in her family. She also wanted to tell her daughter a story. And she thought of the clothes in which she bore her.”
Bijok created a comfortable, washable dress out of the same kind of absorbent material from which cloth diapers are made. She now creates them to order.
“Today a woman wants to be beautiful, even if she is in a maternity hospital or breastfeeding. Clothing will help her feel confident. Underwear manufacturers have figured this out. However, the quality of female fashion for pregnant and nursing women is still low.”
Have you tried any of these ingenious inventions made for women by women in the Czech Republic?