HRTS GU4360 Menstruation, Gender and Rights: Interdisciplinary Approaches

The course will explore the contemporary discourse around menstruation in global and local contexts. The recent shift in public discourse around menstruation is crucial because efforts to support menstruators across the lifespan not only confer health benefits but also provide a key entry point for gender justice. Centering menstruation recognizes the body as foundational, urgent and politically relevant. 

This is why menstruation matters: it unites the personal and the political, the intimate and the public, the physiological and the socio-cultural. 

Students in the course will have an opportunity to engage with the Working Group on Menstrual Health and Gender Justice, they will develop a proposal for an interdisciplinary research project, and they will benefit from a workshop on public engagement with The OpEd Project.

The course will be taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members with backgrounds in human rights, law, epidemiology, anthropology, biomedical informatics, computer science, economics, and women’s and gender studies, who are fellows in the Working Group on Menstrual Health & Gender Justice. The lead instructor will be present throughout the course and will be joined by one or several co-instructors for individual sessions.

Students interested in enrolling in the course may visit the Columbia University Directory of Courses for a complete course description and call number.


SOSC P8908 The Global Menstrual Movement: Understanding Policy and Practice

In recent years, a global movement has begun around menstruation, ranging from research and policies addressing the barriers that school girls may be facing in low-resource contexts, to initiatives fighting the on-going stigma experienced by girls, women and people with periods in high- and low-resource contexts, to the advocacy focused on period poverty.  How did this global movement begin? What is the existing evidence base for addressing menstruation as a public health issue? And what gaps remain?  The purpose of this course is to provide students with a foundation on the topic of menstruation, including the existing research, program and policy approaches underway globally, to equip them with an understanding of the research methodologies most appropriate for understanding the experiences of those who menstruate, and the ways in which advocacy has served to shift attention to this fundamental issue.  Students will learn to analyze the current status of the global menstruation movement through debates, news media critiques, and a proposal addressing ‘new frontiers’ in menstruation.

The course will be led by Dr. Marni Sommer, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, with guest lecturers, including Dr. Inga Winker, one of the key co-founders of the Working Group of Menstrual Health and Gender Justice, and external speakers including David Clatworthy from the International Rescue Committee, Andrew Maroko from the CUNY School of Public Health, and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf of Menstrual Equity.

Students interested in enrolling in the course may visit the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Directory of Courses for a complete course description and call number.