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The Managed Body: Developing Girls and Menstrual Health in the Global South

Bobel offers an invested critique of the complicated discourses of MHM including its conceptual and practical links with the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) development sector, human rights and ‘the girling of development.’ Drawing on analysis of in-depth interviews, participant observations and the digital materials of NGOs and social businesses.

Bobel shows how MHM frames problems and solutions to capture attention and direct resources to this highly-tabooed topic. She asserts that MHM organisations often inadvertently rely upon weak evidence and spectacularised representations to make the claim of a ‘hygienic crisis’ that authorises rescue.  And, she argues, the largely product-based solutions that follow fail to challenge the social construction of the menstrual body as dirty and in need of concealment.

While cast as fundamental to preserving girls’ dignity, MHM prioritises ‘technological fixes’ that teach girls to discipline their developing bodies vis a vis consumer culture, a move that actually accommodates more than it resists the core problem of menstrual stigma.