At the 110th dies natalis of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Maria Carmen Punzi, PhD candidate in the department of Business-Society Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) accepted the 2023 FAME Athena Award for her studies and initiatives in raising positive awareness about menstrual health throughout the university. FAME stands for Females in Academia Moving towards Equity, and the Athena Award shines a spotlight on staff members and students who have made an outstanding contribution for women within EUR or Erasmus MC. Said Maria Carmen, “I am so honoured with this, thank you so much!”

Maria Carmen has always wanted to help organisations gain a broader view of the world and see that there are people who menstruate, go through miscarriages, have abortions, and endure perimenopause and menopause. And then for the organisations to understand that they can help to drive positive change in these areas. After receiving the 2023 FAME Athena Award from EUR Chief Diversity Officer Semiha Denktaş and accepting a unique Sofja Wolsky painting, Maria Carmen said in her acceptance speech, “The key message of my work is there cannot be gender equality without menstrual health, and we all have a role to play…It starts with us.”

Bringing equality to campus

In 2021, together with other stakeholders, Maria Carmen has advocated and obtained funding for free menstrual products across the university campus. She continues her activism within and beyond the university and is regularly consulted by companies on how to accommodate menstrual needs at work. Furthermore, she works as a research consultant for institutional and nonprofit organisations on projects focused on menstrual health, sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equity.

Prof. Werner Brouwer, interim dean of RSM, said about Maria Carmen’s recent award and on-going efforts, “We wholeheartedly congratulate Maria Carmen, who so deservingly won the FAME Athena Award in recognition and honour of her extremely important work in the area of menstrual health and equity. As RSM, we are incredibly proud to have someone like her at our school, who through her scientific work and societal engagement truly embodies being a force for positive change!” 

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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