How To Take Menstruation From A Moment To A Movement
●● Employers: Lead by example to create a
workplace where employees feel empowered
to address cramps and period pain. Flexible
workplace arrangements will benefit everyone,
including those who menstruate. Some
employers are experimenting with different
policies that accommodate menstruation.
●● Healthcare workers: The menstrual cycle is
a vital sign as much as body temperature or
blood pressure. Don’t discount people’s pain or
dismiss symptoms—instead, listen to them and
work together to find solutions to menstrual
health conditions. Advocate for equity in
research, funding, diagnostic standards,
treatment and care for menstrual health.
●● Organizers: How is fighting menstrual stigma
related to the social change you’re advocating
for? Make the connection to menstruation.
Together, we can build a broad movement
that makes space for people from different
backgrounds along the lines of race, ethnicity,
disability, and gender identity. If you’re a white,
able-bodied, cisgender woman like me, use
your privilege to do your best to amplify the
voices of people who face marginalization.
We all have a role in creating a world where no one
will be fired because of heavy bleeding ‘soiled’ the
carpet, as happened to a call center agent working
in Georgia. Where prison guards can’t withhold
menstrual products to degrade incarcerated women.
Where persons with disabilities aren’t sterilized
to ‘manage’ menstruation. Where no trans or
gender-queer person fears the sound of a tampon
Where PMSing is no longer used to undermine
a menstruator. Where young people have a solid
understanding of the physical, social, and mental
changes they’ll experience BEFORE they begin to
menstruate.Where menstrual stigma is lifted and
people can make the best choice for themselves
when they menstruate—to stay home with a cup of
tea or to take on the world.
Inga Winkler is a Lecturer at Columbia
University’s Institute for the Study of
Human Rights and the Director of its
Working Group on Menstrual Health
& Gender Justice. She is particularly
interested in the intersections of
menstruation, human rights, and
culture and focuses on questions
of inequalities, marginalization, and
representation. Most recently co-editor
of the Palgrave Handbook of Critical
Menstruation Studies, Winkler has
also written books on the human
right to water, and co-edited a volume
on sustainable development. The
former legal adviser to the UN Special
Rapporteur on the human right to
water and sanitation, she earned her
Doctorate in Human Rights at the
University of Düsseldorf.
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