The Politics of Periods; A qualitative study of the right to gender equality — through knowledge about menstrual health

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This study examines periods as a question of politics, by highlighting experts’ views on knowledge about menstrual health in Sweden, from a feminist and human rights perspective. Previous studies have indicated that knowledge regarding menstrual health is lacking, hindering women’s from achieving fundamental human rights. This study's purpose is thus to create a greater understanding of menstrual health by highlighting different views from experts in the field, and arguing that periods should be approached as a political issue. The material is conducted through semi-structured interviews with five experts in women's health. The focus is on the experts' opinion on young women’s knowledge about menstrual health, what obstacles prevent women from achieving the knowledge needed, and which policies should be imposed to strengthen women’s right to autonomy. The results show a widespread lack of knowledge about menstrual health amongst young women in Sweden. The challenges hindering women from obtaining the correct information about their bodies were, for example, inequalities, stigmatization, and insufficient education. The interviewees suggest that improved education and increased investments in women's healthcare could strengthen women’s menstrual health. The overall findings from the experts were coherent. Yet there was varying thought regarding what specific information and what policies should be imposed. The results are analyzed from liberal feminist theory and the Human-Rights-Based Framework, focusing on the value of autonomy. The main conclusion is that knowledge about menstrual health is critical to achieving gender equality and therefore should be approached as an essential part of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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