Most women and girls menstruate at some point (up to 800 million each day), but the experience of this varies widely, with stigma, pain, lack of knowledge, and lack of materials frequently causing negative impacts on physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing. The aim of this project is to improve women's and girl's menstrual experiences and to reduce negative impacts of menstruation and related practices, focusing on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This will be achieved through development of a framework and theory of menstrual justice. A menstrual (in)justice framework brings together the many injustices related to menstruation and puts the needs and experiences of women and girls at the centre.
Menstruation has long been neglected in both research and policy, but this is changing. Initiatives have been developed to address the lack of access to sanitary products, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure. These initiatives have focussed mainly on school-based interventions, while frequently omitting those who are already marginalized. Menstrual pain is still a neglected health, social and economic issue - though over 70% of menstruators have associated pain - with no interventions adapted for LMICs to support individuals to self-manage pain and associated disability. Mental health and psychosocial wellbeing have also received little attention.
The research will investigate the complex relationships between menstruation and the practices surrounding it, including public policies at local, national and international levels. This will include collaborative primary research in Nepal and Guatemala.
It will establish comparative datasets focussing on menstruation in adolescents. These will represent the most detailed data on menstruation and its impacts available in LMICs, allowing estimation of causal impacts of menstruation and related practices on physical health, mental health, wellbeing, education, and work.