LJMU researchers have secured a £300,000 grant from the British Academy to tackle the stigma faced by Nepalese women during menstruation.
Depending on religion, ethnicity, social group and geography, Nepal’s menstruating women and girls can be prohibited from cooking, eating with family, looking in mirrors, visiting temples, farming activity, physical contact with men and going to school or work.
Dr Sara Parker and Dr Kay Standing, from the university’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, have received the British Academy Global Challenges Research Fund Sustainable Development award to build on their previous work with women in Nepal. This highlighted the need for more depth of knowledge, a collaborative approach across various agencies, and better education to tackle and fully understand the social stigma associated with menstruation in Nepal.
Dr Parker and Dr Standing will be working in collaboration with Prof Madhusudan Subedi, of Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, and Dr Stefanie Lotter and Dr Lidia Wojtczak from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Together the team will partner with Nepalese academics, researchers and menstrual health practitioners to gain a thorough understanding of the complexities and barriers to behaviour change in the country.
Dr Parker said: “This project focuses on the global challenge of promoting women’s right to sexual and reproductive health. It will explore the origins, diversity and impacts of local social, religious and cultural menstrual health practices in Nepal, which deny women and girls the right to a healthy and dignified period. The challenge is so vast because there is no one all-encompassing narrative on menstruation in Nepal across its 125 ethnic groups.
“Working with local researchers and organisations will be essential to provide the solutions needed for women and girls to menstruate with dignity, give them their sexual and reproductive rights, and protect their human right to be free from discrimination.”
Professor Joe Yates, Dean of the Faculty of Art, Professional and Social Studies, added: “We are delighted that the work of Dr Parker and Dr Standing has been recognised through the award from the British Academy and we look forward to hearing the outcome of this valuable research to tackle the discrimination faced by thousands of women and girls in Nepal.”
Dr Parker and Dr Standing will be visiting Nepal in November this year to launch the project.