skip to Main Content

Chapter 20: Talk Period: Stigma, Shame and Advocacy, Menstrual Rights are Human Rights

Menstrual Equity Annotated Bibliography and Suggested Student Assignments



  • Weiss-Wolf, J. (2017). Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity. Arcade


  • In Periods Gone Public, Weiss-Wolf discusses the current social and political climate around menstruation and contends that eliminating the sales tax on menstrual products is a first step towards menstrual equity. The author examines the way that social forces such as poverty, homelessness, and incarceration affect access to menstrual products and argues that period products are a fundamental human necessity.
  • Bobel, C., Winkler, I. T., Fahs, B., Hasson, K. A., Kissling, E. A., & Roberts, T.-A.

 (2020). The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies. Springer Singapore Pte. Limited.

  • This handbook is an extensive, multidisciplinary resource on the field of critical menstrual studies that expands avenues of research and advocacy in this field. It explores menstruation through social, cultural, political, and psychological lenses.
  • Fahs, B. (2017). Out for Blood: Essays on Menstruation and Resistance. SUNY Press.
    • Fahs’s book is made up of eleven essays on menstruation and resistance that bring together gender and feminist theory, political activism, and critical body studies. The author highlights the voices of those fighting to end menstrual shame and stigma and argues for a shift to a new culture around menstruation.



  • Zehtabchi, R. (Director). (2019). Period. End of Sentence. [Film]. Netflix.
    • In this movie, women in rural India fight against menstrual stigma. After a sanitary pad machine is put in their village, women learn to make and market their own sanitary pads, increasing access in an area where, previously, women suffered health issues and dropped out of school due to lack of access to menstrual products.
  • Snow, R. (Director). (2019) Pandora’s Box: Lifting the Lid on Menstruation [Film]. IR


  • This movie discusses the lack of education and stigma around menstruation globally and argues for normalizing conversation on menstruation. It examines how not having access to menstrual productions and menstrual education negatively impacts people who menstruate and their ability to attend school, work, and lead a healthy life.
  • Strayed, C., & Lindstrom, B. (2019, March 8). I Am Not Untouchable, I Just Have My Period. New

York Times. 

  • This short, powerful video is about menstrual stigma in Nepal and the practice of chhaupadi, where during their period, women are seen as impure and some are forced to sleep outside in a shed or hut during their period. Nepalese girls speak out against menstrual stigma and chhaupadi and express their hope that future generations of girls will not face this stigma.
  • PERIOD. (n.d.). Youth in the Menstrual Equity Movement: Legislation. YouTube. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from 
    • In this video, there are panelists with a background in advocacy who are current undergraduate and master’s students as well as New York Congresswoman Grace Meng. The panelists break down the systemic change required to solve period poverty once and for all.   



  • American Civil Liberties Union, & Period Equity. (n.d.) The Unequal Price of Periods: 

Menstrual Equity in the United States. ACLU. 

  • This report by the ACLU discusses menstrual equity in the United States and how laws and policies restrict access to menstrual products. The report details how those living in poverty, the incarcerated, and other vulnerable populations are especially affected by restricted access, and the report finishes with recommendations on how to further menstrual equity.
  • ACLU National Prison Project. (2019, December). Menstrual Equity – A Legislative 

Toolkit For Advocates and Allies. ACLU. 

  • This toolkit is a companion for the report “The Unequal Price of Periods” by the ACLU. It is meant to provide advocates of menstrual equity with arguments and materials to further menstrual equity in the United States through legislation.



  • Strayed, C., & Lindstrom, B. (2019). I Am Not Untouchable, I Just Have My Period. New 

York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from

  • This opinion piece in the New York Times discusses the practice of chhaupadi in Nepal and the impact it has on women’s wellbeing and safety. 
  • Huma Farid, M. D. (2021, June 1). Period equity: What is it, why does it matter? Harvard Health. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from 
    • This article provides a quick, easy, and impactful introduction to what period equity is. It engages the readers with the idea of period products as luxuries. It also touches on the importance of holding conversations around the stigma of periods. Finally, it covers insights as to how to address period poverty. 
  • Gruer, C., Goss, T., Schmitt, M. L., & Sommer, M. (1AD, January 1). Menstrual Equity Initiatives at USA Universities: A multiple case study of common obstacles and enabling factors. Frontiers. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from 
    • This case study provides qualitative data as to how students and administrative actors from universities and their perspectives regarding free menstrual product initiatives. The key identifying factors in these discussions included: common challenges, obstacles and factors that support the success and sustainability of programming. 
  • An analysis of public and feminist … – JMU scholarly commons. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2022, from 
    • This narrative is by a James Madison University student. This rhetorical analysis is a very interesting take into menstrual equity. It tells the perspective of an advocate and their journey to implement change within their institution with a program. 


Organizations for Menstrual Equity and Accessibility 

    • Days for Girls is an organization that works to advance menstrual equity, health, dignity, and opportunity for all. Their work increases access to menstrual care and education through global partnerships and advocating for global policy change. 
    • Period Equity is a legal organization that utilizes legal and policy advocacy to work towards achieving menstrual equity in the United States. The organization focuses on three main issues: the sales tax on menstrual products, increasing access to menstrual products and increasing the safety of menstrual products. 
  • What does menstrual equity mean to you? Women’s Voices for the Earth. (2022, January 13). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from,and%20safety%20of%20menstrual%20products.&text=It’s%20about%20making%20sure%20that,care%20of%20their%20menstrual%20health 
    • Women’s Voices for the Earth is an organization that specializes in diverse topics regarding women. They offer an introduction to menstrual equity and their goal is to display the growth and change that united voices from all over the world continue the conversation about period health, product access, affordability, education, and safety.
  • Divacares. Diva International. (2021, March 1). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from 
    • DivaCares fights for menstruation equity and works with communities to ensure safe and affordable menstrual products that are accessible to people who menstruate. This organization was launched as a social impact program to create partnerships with the same mission and values. 
  • Menstrual Hygiene Awareness: Helping young girls manage … (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2022, from 
    • This blog shares resources with the community such as a toolkit for schools to share about menstruation hygiene. They advocate for speech and the ongoing silence due to stigmas around menstruation. This blog offers a place to engage, share and create awareness on menstruation equity. 
  • MH Hub. (n.d.). MH Hub Organizations. MH Hub. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from 
    • The MH Hub is one of the most comprehensive resources in the menstrual hygiene sector and nearly every menstrual hygiene and or health organization utilizes it. One of the best pathways to participating in the menstrual equity movement is to seek out an organization that is already doing work in the field and find out how you can participate or help with their efforts. With so many organizations out there it can be hard to know where to begin or how to find the one you’d most like to support or work with. This resource is a database created by MH Hub that includes almost all major menstrual hygiene and health organizations and provides an excellent filtration system users can use to pair results down and find the organizations closest to them or that focus on the aspects of menstrual health, hygiene, and equity they are most interested in supporting or working within. 
  • WASH United. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2022, from 
    • This website was created by one of the leading menstrual health organizations WASH for MH day and focuses entirely on the period tax–the extra tax placed on period products in many areas of the United States. This website includes helpful text and video content that explains what the period tax is, where and how it affects people and why removing it matters. The site also offers case studies and research to support its information and offers tips for participating in or running your own campaign and examples of other campaigns on the period tax. The combination of visual and text information, including maps and videos makes this a particularly useful resource, and its specificity and credibility make it a great starting place for education and action on the incredibly large and complex topic of period equity. 


Other Resources

  • Madami by MH Hub, PERIOD, Myovant Sciences, & Pfizer. (n.d.). Glossary for the Global Menstrual Movement. 
    • Created by Period., Madami by MH Hub, Myovant Sciences, and Pfizer in January 2022, this resource provides a highly researched and reviewed glossary for the menstrual movement that not only defines some of the jargon, lingo, and terms specific to the movement and field but also provides information on where the terms came from and accompanying resource citations. This guide is a powerful tool for those new to the menstrual movement or who have not kept up with the latest language changes and is a helpful tool for expanding research and knowledge by providing those additional resources for more information. Having a universal set of definitions allows for consistency, clarity, and understanding across a global movement, it also makes it easier for collaboration between advocates and organizations. 


  • MH Hub. (n.d.). Knowledge Hive. MH Hub. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from 
    • Put together by MH Hub, this “Knowledge Hive” is a database of all things menstrual health and hygiene. The database includes evidence-based resources, educational materials, menstrual products, organizations, technologies, services, and more. You can search by broad pillars which include: Education and Learning, Policy, Innovation, and Research, and then refine things further by selecting a category listed under the pillar you’ve selected. It is best used when you either have a very specific topic in mind or a very specific purpose in mind, like teaching about menstruation to a group. 
  • MHDay. (n.d.). Resources. MHDay. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from 
    • Put together by WASH United for Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day, this central collection of resources is significantly smaller than some others like MH Hub’s Knowledge Hive and provides results that are most in alignment with the needs of people and organizations who are celebrating MH Day. It is easiest to search by the offered tags and one perk is that you can see without clicking into a resource, what language it is in, who published it when it was published, the country/region, and what format the file is making it easy to tell right away if something fits your basic needs or not.


Activity 1

Make a Menstruation Bracelet:


This activity is a great option for taking part in the annual celebration of Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day, but it can be used year-round to participate in the menstrual movement. Wearing it can act as a conversation starter which is an important part of normalizing talking about menstruation and removing the stigma surrounding it. Doing the activity with others can also be an opportunity for normalization and conversation and it can also be used to bring people together for a conversation about the menstrual movement, engaging people with the cause and raising awareness.

No matter how you chose to utilize the activity, the steps are simple:


  1.     Pick 5 red or pink beads (to represent menstruation) and 23 beads of any other color you choose. You should have 28 beads total (like the 28 days of the female reproductive cycle).
  2.     Measure out a piece of string to use as a bracelet (or necklace if you’d prefer). Test it on your wrist and make sure to leave plenty extra for tying at the end!
  3.     String your beads on making sure to keep all 5 of your red or pink beads grouped together.

*Tip: Tie one bead on one end of the string so that you can add the rest of your beads without worrying they’ll fall off the other end!

  1.     Tie it off and wear it with pride or give it to a friend or family member!

*Tip: These are a great tool to teach the young girls in your life about their cycle!

  1.     Post on social media! Show off your bracelet on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and use the year’s MH Day hashtags to join the larger celebration. (You can find information on the year’s theme and hashtags here.)

    Beaded bracelet, not your style? Check out MH Day’s website for some digital bracelet options or the template that can be used to create a paper one. 


Activity 2

Reflection Questions:

  • What did you learn about menstrual advocacy and menstrual equity? Were you familiar with these terms? 
  • What is menstrual stigma? What connections can you make between what was discussed in this chapter and your own life or the life of someone you know?
  • How do you think different factors such as poverty, gender expression, culture, etc. affect menstrual stigma? 
  • Have you ever engaged on social media with organizations that talk about menstrual equity? If yes, share a post, reel, TikTok, tweet involving equity. If not, why do you think that is the case? 
  • How can you get involved in the fight for menstrual equity in your own community? Are there local organizations or groups on campus doing menstrual equity advocacy and work?
  • Do you know any other resources regarding menstrual equity/accessibility? Please share. 

Prompt to Reader

Now that you have read and reflected on menstrual advocacy and equity you can try to put it into action. Create one engagement activity to engage people who are interested in this advocacy work. You can create an activity or an informational 1-minute video or you can create a powerful graphic to showcase your reflection. 


Activity 3

Create a Zine on Menstruation or Menstrual Equity

What is a zine? 

How to make a zine? 

What is an example of a zine on menstruation or menstrual equity? 


Create a zine in the method of your choosing about an aspect of menstruation and menstrual equity that appeals to you. You can share it with your class, on social media, with friends and family, and even pass it out on campus!  

Chapter 20: Talk Period:  Stigma, Shame And Advocacy, Menstrual Rights Are Human Rights

William Paul Simmons

Professor, Gender and Women's Studies; Director, Human Rights Practice Program (University of Arizona)

Back To Top