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June 1st 2022 – MRN conference at Aberdeen Uni.

Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik

Last week, we organised the Menstruation Research Network UK’s annual conference at the University of Aberdeen. It was a wonderful day with brilliant speakers covering every aspect of menstrual policy, law and rights from across the globe.

Our keynote speaker Scheaffer Okore inspired us to ‘overcome a myopic gendered approach of throwing pads at the problem. We need an intersectional approach’. This includes the meeting points between academia and NGOs – working together makes the menstrual health space stronger, but we must also hold each other accountable. Thank you, Okore, for such a brilliant talk!

In our first panel (Global Politics), speakers shared insight into menstrual policies and policy-experimentation in Japan (Fiona Creaser, Naomi Yukimaru, Rosemary Reader, Miwako Eto, Kazuhiro Kawamura), Nepal (Stefanie Lotter, Madhusudan Subedi, Sara Parker, Kay Standing, Neeti Aryal Khanal, Sara Baumann, BK Shresta, Tabea Seizm, Jyotika Rimal), and across Africa (Goodness Odey, Bridgit Chepkoech Kurgat, Emmanuella Nxeribe, Abenmire Adi, Samar Mohammed Alhaj, Josephine Ndapewoshali Amesho, Don elieso Lucero-Prisno III).

Next, speakers covering Strategies in the Global North and the Global South, explored the role of natural disaster management (Srijani Roy), comparative politics (Maria Carmen Punzi), and discrimination (Clara Schweiser, Mirabelle Boehm, Radha Paudel).

In the following panel on Menstrual Stigma and Discrimination, Kate Molyneaux shared new research on lived experience of menstrual stigma in Scotland, Inga Winkler offered a critical analysis of menstrual policy initiatives, Marcy Karin outlined the issues of comperative menstrual discrimination at work from a legal scholarly framework, Margaret Johnson analysed the issue of surveilling menstruators and their bodies, and Dr Sally King King shared new insight on menstrual leave.

After the break, we had a panel focused on the Free Period (Products) Act in Scotland. Bettina Bildhauer and Fiona McKay offered analysis of Scotland’s role, while Aino Koskenniemi provided a Finnish comparative perspective, and Lottie Rhodes asked who benefitted from the English menstrual policies of the 2020s.

In our last panel on Menstruation, Policy and Law in the US, Dr. Saniya Lee Ghanoui Lee Ghanoui spoke about Title IX and menstrual education, Bridget Crawford and Emily Gold Waldman shared insight (from their new book Menstruation Matters) about menstrual equity in the US as a cross-generational movement, Sharra Vostral introduced the idea of the ‘menstrualscape’ as a conceptual tool, and Jamie McConnell offered an analysis of menstrual product ingredients and the law.

Overall, it was a packed day full of new research, new connections and the joys of hybrid conference making! As the organisers, we can only hope that the speakers felt inspired, and that they will reach out to at least one person they did not know about beforehand. We hope this is the start of many new collaborations!

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Explorathon Nov 27 2020 – European Researchers’ Night []
November 23, 2020
The EXPLORATHON [ ] is Scotland’s contribution to European Researchers’ Night, which this year takes place on 27 November. We’re involved in two activities for Explorathon 2020.
Wikipedia: One of our commitments as a group is to share our collective knowledge on menstruation with the broader community, and some of us have become Wikipedia editors to improve the quality of information related to menstruation. We’re currently upgrading Wikipedia entries with the help of the Explorathon team, culminating on the night of the 27th.
Ask Me Anything: Our other contribution is three short videos for Ask Me Anything [], a St Andrews public engagement platform. Bettina Bildhauer, Gayle Davis and Lara Owen answered questions put by school pupils on the history of menstruation, menstrual euphemisms, and period poverty. Watch them all here [ ] (scroll down to Nov 19, 20 and 21).

Covid effects and adaptation
October 8, 2020
Like pretty much everyone, our work has been disrupted by Covid-19. Our research in Scotland has been impacted by restrictions on travel and face-to-face meeting, and we had to cancel our planned schedule of data collection, physical meetings, seminars, and public events. 
We’ve managed to successfully regroup by using online archives and other means of distance research and communication. As a research group, we’ve developed a regular schedule of Zoom meetings, including specific working groups along with whole group Q and A sessions with network members and other experts in the field. 
Our next public event will be on November 27 at the online Explorathon hosted by the University of St Andrews. We’re contributing to Ask Me Anything sessions, and to the Wiki-editathon, where members of our team will be writing new Wikipedia entries about menstruation, menstrual activism, and menstrual scholarship. Exact timing and links will be posted here as soon as we have them.

Royal Society of Edinburgh Award
March 3, 2020
Menstruation Research Network founding members Prof Bettina Bildhauer & Dr Camilla Rostvik and Co-Investigator Prof Sharra Vostral – along with colleagues in the UK – have been awarded funding by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to undertake a two-year network project entitled the Ending Period Poverty Network.

The project will reveal how historical shifts in attitudes towards menstruation and associated technologies are useful indicators and predictors of political movement toward gender equity in Scotland, and explore how, and to what extent, developments in menstrual practices, including activism, are co-opted by commercial and political actors to serve capitalist and national agendas. For example, the history of gendered technology demonstrates how the use of menstrual products has signalled changes in women’s political rights and freedoms.
The project aims to produce multiple public events, a white paper, and public reference resource, alongside continuing the website and social media presence begun by Menstruation Research Network.

Royal Society of Edinburgh Award → []