LJMU host third annual research conference on menstruation

The Annual Menstruation Research Network (UK) Conference took place at LJMU in May focused on the theme of Inclusive Menstruation: Practice, Research, Action.

Organised by Professor Kay Standing (Sociology), Dr Bee Hughes (Media, Culture, Communication) and Harriet Fuest (PGR in the School of Humanities and Social Science), the conference brought together 125 contributors plus visiting delegates from across the UK and beyond, both in-person and online, at the university’s Student Life Building.

The day-long conference included a range of presentation formats including posters, short video screenings, roundtable discussions, lightning papers, creative workshops, and art performances to explore what inclusive menstruation means, and why it matters.

Contributions examined decolonial and embodied practices, creative practices and art historical approaches, autistic and survivor experiences of menstruation, and how sport can be used internationally to improve menstrual literacy in schools. Many of the conference presentations are available to view on the network’s YouTube channel.

Dr Bee Hughes said: “Our conference at LJMU has been a wonderful experience to curate and organise, with inclusion and diversity at its centre, and generosity from all involved that has helped us ensure menstruation research is taken seriously and the UK research community is acknowledged for its global impact in this field.”

Ahead of the conference, Liverpool’s civic buildings were lit up red for World Menstrual Health Day, with thanks to Liverpool Town Hall. The conference was supported by Wellcome Trust and received additional funding through LJMU HEIF Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies.

About the network

The Menstruation Research Network (UK) was founded in 2018 bringing together experts from sciences and humanities, NGOs, the arts, activists and campaigners, industry, and the NHS in order to unify knowledge about the many medical, political, economic, psychological and cultural issues related to menstruation. The initial work of the MRN UK was led by Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik and supported by a Wellcome Trust Small Network Grant (2018 – 2020).

The network’s word continued through the pandemic with The Ending Period Poverty Research Project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and administratively based at the University of St Andrews and resulted in a Special Collection publication in Open Library of the humanities.

The recent phase of the network’s practice has been focused on facilitating free conferences to enable menstrual experts across disciplines in and out of academia, and from across the world, to network and collaborate on themes of policy, activist, legal and public interest concerning menstruation. This phase of the project was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The network’s first annual conference was held at the University of Aberdeen in June 2022 – hosted by Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik - and explored the broad theme of menstruation, policy, rights and the law.

The second conference took place at the University of St Andrews in May 2023 on Menstruation and Sustainability, hosted by Professor Bettina Bildhauer. Artist Jay Critchley gave a public keynote presentation and performed as Miss Tampon Liberty in a costume made from washed-up tampon applicators. Fifty academics, charity workers, activists, artists, policymakers and entrepreneurs from Mexico, Kenya, the US, Canada, Europe, Thailand and elsewhere presented and discussed recent research on sustainable menstrual products as well as the role of menstruation in law, public health, politics, justice, global development and culture.

Membership is formed of those who engage with the conferences, and information on founding members and project participants can be found on the MRN website.

Dr Bee Hughes added: “The MRN project has brought together the vibrant interdisciplinary research, activism and advocacy undertaken on menstruation across the UK, and globally, in a new way. My own career has been championed by Camilla and Bettina, and other MRN members, in ways that I could not have foreseen, and I’m sure this is true for others.”


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