We are proud to announce the launch of MeJARa, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at improving women’s and girls’ menstrual experiences while addressing the negative impacts of menstruation and related practices. This project, led by Dr. Melanie Channon in partnership with Dr. Mahesh Puri and Dr Carmen Alvarado Benitez, focuses on creating a comprehensive framework and theory of menstrual justice. With the generous support of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee, we will concentrate our efforts on the needs of adolescent girls in two case study countries: Nepal and Guatemala.

Menstruation has long been a neglected subject in both research and policy. However, recent initiatives have begun to address the lack of access to period products, education, and water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure. Many of these interventions are school-based, which, while important, do not address the broader community attitudes or the needs of those who are not in school. Furthermore, menstrual pain, a severely neglected health, social, and economic issue, has not received adequate attention in these initiatives.

MeJARa consists of five subcomponents, each corresponding to specific research questions and objectives. The first subcomponent involves analyzing national and international menstrual policies, while the second subcomponent seeks to understand the menstrual experiences and needs of adolescent girls. The third subcomponent aims to develop a universal, multidimensional framework of menstrual justice that incorporates low- and middle-income country (LMIC) perspectives and priorities. The fourth subcomponent focuses on developing and validating tools to measure and assess menstrual justice. Finally, the fifth subcomponent will involve developing and testing community-based interventions to improve menstrual justice.

Through a mixed-methods approach, we will explore the complex and far-reaching effects of menstrual (in)justice and menstrual health, with a particular focus on menstrual pain and psychosocial health in Nepal and Guatemala. Working closely with adolescent girls, their families, and the wider community, we will create a complex intervention that addresses menstrual injustice. The intervention will require low-intensity specialist human resources, ensuring that it is feasible, acceptable, and scalable.

MeJARa is poised to make a significant impact on menstrual justice, health, and wellbeing. Over the course of five years (November 2022 – October 2027), we will conduct a longitudinal study in two districts in Karnali and Gandaki provinces, Nepal. This study will not only assess the developed intervention but also allow for the estimation of causal impacts of menstruation and related practices on physical health, mental health, wellbeing, education, and work.

We invite you to join us as we try to improve menstrual experiences and reduce the negative consequences of menstruation and related practices. We hope that together, we can help achieve the right to a good period in policy and practice for women and girls globally.

Written by:

Josephine Mcallister