Menstrual policies and development. A critique of the approach to menstruation in international cooperation

  • Authors:
    Michela Accerenzi
    Working Papers / Hegoa, Instituto de Estudios sobre Desarrollo y Cooperación Internacional, Universidad del País Vasco
    Year: 2023


Feminist theories argue that the body is the site of social experience, normalization and, at the same time, political resistance. However, in the field of development, a biologistic view of the body continues to be mostly adopted, focused on women as mothers or victims. An example is the menstruation, which has been excluded from development politics and programs until the first decade of the 21st century, when Menstrual Hygiene Management projects began to be implemented aimed at reducing school absenteeism among girls and adolescents. Following the main message in Western countries, where menstruation has been marketed as a matter of hygiene, not health or sexuality, the cooperation sector has reproduced a medicalized vision of the body, which (re)constructs expectations of normality to the female body. Based on a representation of girls as precarious menstruating bodies, the interventions reinforce the idea of the female body as dirty and to be managed in the private space. Based on the approaches of intersectionality and decolonial feminism, this article makes a critical reading of these programs and presents proposals to improve menstrual politics within the international development cooperation.

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