Getting serious about menstruationThe 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, advocacy and programming, 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? 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 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, 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.
Our working group brings together faculty across different departments interested in menstruation and provides a forum for encouraging individual and collaborative research that crosses disciplinary boundaries. The working group is funded through the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University as a part of the Women Creating Change series.