A Blessing or a Curse? An analysis of Menstrual Health Promotion in the Workplace through a Human Rights Lens

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

In 2018, the Swedish organization MENSEN developed a workplace menstrual certification involving employers, employees and trade unions ‘to create a more period friendly work life’. This includes access to bathrooms, waste disposal and hygienic products, flexible workload, and staff training to dismantle menstrual stigma. This article analyzes this initiative in light of international, EU/European human rights and Swedish laws through a critical feminist lens. It assesses how the rights to just and fair conditions, health, privacy, non-discrimination and collective bargaining can be leveraged to support menstruators in the workplace. It analyzes whether States and employers are in breach of their existing legal obligations by not offering workplaces in which menstruators’ needs are taken into account. The article also critically examines the advantages and risks of mainstreaming menstruality in the workplace and the role of private actors in doing so. The article concludes that human rights and Swedish law are in theory largely supportive of menstrual health in the workplace, but that menstruators’ needs have nevertheless remained largely neglected, which reflects the invisibility of women’s corporeity in the law. As a result, meeting menstruators’ needs in the workplace requires more than simply following existing, gender-neutral human rights and laws and instead requires mainstreaming menstruality in various legal frameworks. Although private actors’ initiatives like MENSEN’s are a step in the right direction, they cannot and should not be substitutes for the fulfillment of existing legal obligations by States and employers.

TidsskriftNordic Journal on Human Rights
Antal sider28
StatusAfsendt - 2022

ID: 291535689