Practice Note: Why We Started Talking About Menstruation—Looking Back (and Looking Forward) with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

In: The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies [Internet]. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan; 2020. Chapter 37.


In this conversation, Catarina de Albuquerque, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, and her former advisor, Virginia Roaf, discuss how menstrual health and menstruation have become critical to understanding the contribution that the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector can make to ensuring gender equality. They look back at country missions and the many conversations with women and girls that led to a closer examination of how stigma around menstruation limits access to education, work, and a life in dignity. WASH provides a strong entry point for addressing taboos relating to menstruation, but the authors identify that one must get past this often technical understanding to address deeply entrenched gender stereotypes.

Publication types

  • Review