We developed this Glossary because the work to break menstrual taboos and enhance menstrual wellbeing should be available to all, without the barriers of confusing or advanced language around menstruation. Occasionally, organizations and individuals inadvertently create barriers to advancing the menstrual movement by using inaccessible or regressive language. Without appropriate or uniform language, communications and advocacy can fail in connecting our efforts effectively to who we aim to influence, namely policymakers, donors, activists and other changemakers. Ultimately, without unified language, we will see even more barriers to realizing our goals of ensuring healthy, dignified, and affordable periods for all. We hope this Glossary sets the tone for the language of the menstrual movement, catalyzing inclusion and advocacy around the diverse experiences within the global menstrual community, inclusive of young people, indigenous populations, people of color, people living with disabilities, or other historically marginalized populations who are often not included in the conversation.
We also developed this Glossary because we recognize that for many who work in the menstrual health space, the menstrual cycle is not simply about bleeding or menstrual health management, but rather about the experiences of navigating life while bleeding.
We hope to capture this duality in this Glossary by including terms and descriptions that speak to both the biological and social experiences of menstruation. Menstrual health is ultimately a gendered and sexed experience, which individuals have to navigate on a daily basis. It is important to recognize that not all those who menstruate identify with womanhood, and not all women menstruate. Language should aim to be inclusive and appropriate to all the contexts in which one works. At times, that means using gender-neutral language such as menstruator, and sometimes the most appropriate inclusive language is women, girls and those who menstruate. The language people chose to use should be suitable for their own context and community.
Presently, this Glossary is only available in English, and we hope this is the first version of many, in multiple languages, to better reflect the experiences that vary from region to region and the people and organizations who work in this movement throughout the world. Similarly, we recognize that this glossary is not exhaustive, and we hope that future editions will continue to support menstrual health advocates and professionals to familiarize themselves with the terminology of the menstrual movement.
Language is ever-changing and constantly growing. We are excited for what this Glossary can mean for the future of advancing menstrual equity, because when we all have access to the language of the movement, it will only strengthen and grow. To discuss the contents of this Glossary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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