5th Latin America Conference: Radha Paudel (Inaugural Speech) in EI Salvador

Inaugural Speech in Fifth International Conference in EI Salvador


Hola, Namaste, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening friends, who are here and watching us from all around globe.

Firstly, please accept my heartfelt congratulations for hosting the Fifth Edition of the International Event for appealing Menstrual Dignity. Demanding menstrual dignity in colonized cultures and discourses on menstrual movement, as well as overall human rights, is not a simple task.

Secondly, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for inviting me as special delegate. On behalf of Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, it is my honor and I am truly humbled to be here with you all.

Let me start my speech by taking you back 43 years to my childhood in Nepal, a country in the global south that is 15,255 kilometers away from you.

When I was about 7 years old, I learned that menstrual blood is dirty, and a curse from god. Meanwhile, I witnessed my mother following various forms of menstrual restrictions. Amongst other things, she was not allowed to mingle with the male members of the family, not allowed to participate in any social and religious activities, not allowed to enter the kitchen and so on. I also saw men yelling at women without any reason. I was traumatize. I felt suffocated, perpetually grasping for air. I did not like being a girl so I attempted suicide when I was about 9 years old. Unfortunately, not for me. I failed. I really wanted to die. I was begging, crying, and pleading with God to convert me into a boy instead of a girl. I felt equally helpless and hopeless.

5 years later of my failed suicidal attempt or 38 years ago, I had first menstruation at a time when I was returning from school. I was scared to think that my family would force me to follow the restrictions that my three sisters and mother had followed. So I ran away from home for five days to avoid following the menstrual restrictions. Later, while doing my Bachelor’s degree, I discovered that there existed a range of menstrual practices whether in educated, urban societies, and even in the capital city, Kathmandu.

At that moment, I was aware that discriminatory menstrual practices have been observed worldwide with various names, forms, and magnitudes, regardless of class, education, region, religion, and so forth. There are places where it’s readily apparent and others where it’s not. It has been reported worldwide that there are over 5000 euphemisms or fake names for menstruation. By considering all forms of menstrual practices, GSCDM defines menstrual discrimination as a group of practices that includes taboos, shyness, stigma, abuses, restrictions, violence and deprivation from resources and services associated with menstruation throughout the life cycle of menstruators. Regrettably, the UN and its key partners are misinterpreting menstrual discrimination and misleading the public. Menstrual discrimination is considered by the UN to be a harmful traditional practice.

Dear Friends, do you agree that menstrual discrimination is a form of Harmful Traditional Practice ? I do not for three reasons:

  • On Earth, more than half of the population is born with a uterus and ovaries, and menstruation is necessary for humans to survive.

How can this be a ‘practice’ for communities and societies?

  • And it is natural. Nature has been the source of it for more than 3 million years, not like it was created or practiced for a long time as a tradition.
  • Menstruation is for all menstruators who are born with uterus and ovaries like girls, women, trans men, queer and it also a matter of non-menstruators.

It is crystal clear to me that menstrual discrimination should NOT discuss under harmful traditional practices. Here, I again, urge the UN to discuss menstrual discrimination as a standalone concern. Let’s shout out together- Menstrual Discrimination is not a Harmful Traditional Practice.


I believe that Menstrual Discrimination is itself a form of sexual and gender based violence. Unfortunately, the UN and its key partners are misinterpreting menstrual discrimination and are misleading the discourse. For instance, which form of menstrual discrimination is favor of person’s will?

Dear Friends, do you agree with the UN’s interpretation? I do not for the following reasons:

  • Any and all forms of menstrual discrimination are against a person’s will;
  • One of these restrictions or practices overlap at least two categories of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. For example, a menstruating person is not allowed to touch the water in a community’s source. Here, at once, all category of SGBV like sexual or emotional or physical or deprivation from services and resources, are included. Can you calculate how many forms of menstrual discrimination practices and menstruator experiences during her life span including menopause?

Regrettably, the UN does not acknowledge the diverse forms of SGBV that are caused by menstrual discriminatory practices when publishing data on SGBV. How can the data presented by UN be valid or authoritative if one woman out of three experiences sexual or emotional or physical violence in her life time?

Again, I urged the UN to acknowledge the menstrual discrimination is a form of SGBV. It’s high time to reconsider it.


Additionally, Menstrual Discrimination itself is a violation of human rights. If you use same menstrual practice here – the fact that it is prohibited to touch the water source, how many rights have been violated? How many times has this right been violated in one menstrual cycle and its impact on non-menstruating days? Here,  the right to dignity, freedom, and equality, right to mobility or participation, right to health, right to water, right to environment, right to education are violated at once and may occur many times in a day.

The UN has been advocating human rights for last 76 years, and yet have never seen the violence of bunch of human rights at once. UN has not seen all the pain, suffering and struggle of menstruator during menstruation and its impact in non-menstruating days and throughout the lifespan of that individual.

Let’s have a conversation about why the UN disregards the concerns of menstruators, my friends.


I often think our seniors, social scientists have done a lot for us. No doubt they build our foundation what we have been cheering now. However, I believe they may have overlooked menstruation from the human rights perspectives.

Do you think the uterus or childbirth is enough to unpack the unequal power relationship and patriarchy? Before enough to carry baby, wasn’t there a role of uterus for construction and reinforcement of power and patriarchy? It sounded like odd question though it is the truth indeed. Menstruation is not a natural phenomenon only. It’s social as well. It impacts in every moment and aspects of life no matter whether you born with uterus and ovaries or not, no matter whether it is about sex selective abortion or child marriage or gender pay gap or not allowing to touch water source or climate crisis or SRHR or so on. Therefore, UN and colleagues misinterpreted and mislead the menstrual movement. Menstruation be should examined as life cycle approach and even after death in few cultures. And most importantly, it is not linear and beyond the menstrual products or infrastructure or management or even health. It has to examine in holistic and life cycle approach.

Dear friends, let’s appeal to UN and its friends to change its lens to define and address menstruation discrimination NOW.


Dear Friends, I am afraid that you may leave the conference or stop listening my speech because I am challenging the prestigious and esteemed organization, the UN.

Sorry for being bold but it’s very important to questioned for deconstruction the menstrual and feminist movement. Let me share another area of UN is misinterpreted and misleading. The number of organization which are working around Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights and recently in Comprehensive Sexual Education is really very high. They spend abundance of wealth and time. But again, they don’t consider that the menstruation is an entry for entire SRHR including CSE. If a menstruator does not understand her menstruation, how can she make decisions while having unsafe sex or she can receive assistance with emergency contraception or safe abortion services? She would trapped with other forms of sexual and gender based violence. If you are really committed for SRHR and CSE, you need to change your lens NOW that the menstrual dignity as an entry to SRHR in all diversities.

Dear friend, I strongly believe that you are agreeing with me (pause).

I wonder even if you agree with me. In the name of menstruation, if you only work on menstrual hygiene or management or health or period poverty, you are not fully aligned with menstrual dignity.  Nor are you aligned with Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation. I gently remind you again that menstrual practice is not only discriminatory but also complex and multifaceted. Therefore, you are missing the effects of menstrual practices on the various aspects of menstruator’s life systemically. You need to put menstrual dignity or dignified menstruation at the center of your thinking. If you did so, we could develop a series of indicators to describe menstrual health, management, education, products or WASH facilities and so on. For instance, GSCDM, propose three P approach for making menstrual products dignified and four `S’ approach for making WASH facilities dignified. Likewise, the indicators developed for making our home, school and workplace dignified. Let’s work together and create the just and dignified planet for our daughters, granddaughter and everyone.

Dear friends, each moment of our life is a moment of dignified menstruation moment, no matter who we are. To celebrate this notion with visible programs may not practical for many of us. Therefore, since 2019, GSCDM initiated an international day for dignified menstruation day on 8th December. I gently remind you all to book December 8th as Dignified Menstruation Day in your calendar. But that is not enough, let’s capitalize on all local, national, international moments and days for advocating dignified menstruation. If you are following GSCDM via social networks, GSCDM is super active to mark menstrual month under the theme or mantra «menstrual talk, dignity first».

As feminists, we need to unpack many things within us. Therefore, GSCDM called menstrual health day for 28 May because our menstrual blood is clean, pure and there is no need to sanitize it.


Dear Friends, I am pretty sure that you aware about the activities of GSCDM. But if you don’t, let me highlight very briefly who we are. It is not formed by any UN or INGOs consortium with a bunch of funds and team members. It is formed by a group of people and organizations that wanted to be heard.  No one listened to our stories, no one acknowledged our pain and suffering around not just because of discriminatory menstrual practices but also because the consequences of it. We started with zero penny. We received threatening emails from big organizations and networks from global north. I vividly remember their lines in emails, whatsapp groups and Facebook that GSCDM created confusion to media and government. We were and are not provided platforms for speak, our voices blocked out, our comments discounted in zoom chats. Even the friends from global south do not listen us because they colonized emotionally. It was tough. More than tough. Meanwhile, my tiny team members at secretariat office and finger counting friends from all around the globe, helped make GSCDM come alive and support us on the way to «disrupt» everyone specially the UN who is misleading governments, INGOs, the media and the public

Along with such challenges, GSCDM has been organizing regular webinars, online and offline research in collaboration with Universities, online and offline fellowships, online and offline trainings. We developed training manuals. We published fiction and non-fiction books for development practitioners, rhymes for young children. We also contributed chapters in nine international books. In short, GSCDM is working hard to change the narrative around menstruation from hygiene to dignity and from five days bleeding to life cycle approach.

Friends, join us! Please get a membership which will take you less than a minute and is free of cost. You will get resource materials, information, opportunities and technical support to develop proposals, and so on.

Last but not least, I appeal to join the dignified menstruation movement and reclaiming our rights which we all deserved.

I wish a very successful conference with the note of «Menstrual Talk, Dignity First».

Gracious, Thank you.