Menstrual Health and Gender Justice

Menstrual Health and Gender Justice

Project Directors: Inga Winkler, Marni Sommer, Nancy Reame, Yasmine Ergas, Lynn Freedman, Sayantani Dasgupta

The Menstrual Health and Gender Justice working group seeks to further the nascent field of menstrual studies. This group puts particular emphasis on critically evaluating the current state of research, with interest in examining whose voices are being represented in the field, which actors shape the dominant narrative, whose voices are marginalized, what the gaps are, and how interdisciplinary collaboration might help remedy some of these gaps.

The field is rich with questions: How do women and girls decide which menstrual care practices to adopt? How do girls experience menarche, how do women experience menopause, and what shapes these experiences? How do social media, magazines and social enterprises influence the discourse on menstruation? What are the implications of the recent case supported by the ACLU in which a woman claims to have been fired for leaking menstrual blood at work? Do recent policy developments address the needs of all menstruators, including the most marginalized? What is the role of development agencies and philanthropists in supporting menstrual hygiene management? What kind of interventions do they support and with which results? To what extent does language – menstrual health or menstrual hygiene management – matter? What cultural and religious practices exist around menstruation and how do they relate to gender equality?

Attention to menstrual issues across the lifespan surfaces broader societal issues and tensions, including gender inequality, practices and discourses of embodiment, processes of radicalization and commodification, and emergent technologies. From the perspective of gender equality, menstruation is a fascinating subject of study as it combines various facets including biological processes, deeply rooted stereotypes and social norms, and associated cultural and religious practices. Menstruation has become a category of analysis as a multi-dimensional transdisciplinary subject of inquiry and advocacy. Against this background, this working group capitalizes on the presence of faculty across different departments interested in menstruation and provides a forum for encouraging individual and collaborative research that crosses disciplinary boundaries.

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 "Making Bubbles" Photo credit: Jen Lewis, menstrual designer, Rob Lewis, photographer. Copyright 2018 Beauty in Blood

"Making Bubbles"
Photo credit: Jen Lewis, menstrual designer, Rob Lewis, photographer. Copyright 2018 Beauty in Blood

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