Grant Support for Research and Advocacy on Menstrual Health

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights is pleased to announce that Professor Inga Winkler has received two grants to support her work on menstrual health.

The first grant from the UN Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council will support research and advocacy on menstrual health, including the development of a handbook on Critical Menstrual Studies, which Professor Winkler is co-editing. The handbook seeks to compile state of the art research in the burgeoning field of menstrual health and to inform and shape rapidly evolving developments in policy and practice, as well as elevate ongoing national policy developments in countries across the globe to the level of the UN through various advocacy initiatives.

The second grant is from the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia. It provides support for establishing a Working Group on Menstrual Health & Gender Justice across departments and schools at Columbia. Professor Winkler explained: “Once I started reaching out to other faculty members, I was amazed to see how much interest there is across campus. The working group provides an excellent opportunity to bring a group of faculty and graduate students with shared interests together.”

The last several years have brought a tremendous diversity of menstrual­positive expressions—from the artistic to the practical, the serious to the playful, the provocative to the educational, and the local to the global. Kiran Gandhi made headlines when she ran the London Marathon ‘free bleeding’, Rupi Kaur’s photography project caused a stir on Instagram as did the Thinx campaign on the New York subway.  New menstrual products and menstrual apps are mushrooming, and major magazines are covering the issue.

This recent upsurge brings significant opportunities for scholars. Professor Winkler explains: “I see a need – and indeed a responsibility – to engage and ask critical questions:

Do we inadvertently reinforce the perception of menstruation as ‘dirty’ and ‘impure’ when we use the term menstrual hygiene? Do we exclude genderqueer menstruators when focusing on women and girls continuing to present gender as a binary? Do we offer quick technological fixes rather than addressing the underlying causes often rooted in the stigma surrounding menstruation? – I’m looking forward to the opportunities to address many of these questions over the next years.”