No one left behind, period: Understanding and addressing menstrual stigma

We warmly welcome applicants within this area, however, this is a competitive studentship that will be awarded based on academic excellence and the successful applicant will be selected from one of the following areas listed below:

Conditions of the award

  • It is not open to individuals who are already holding another award which covers the payment of tuition fees in full or part.
  • It is not open to individuals who have already been awarded a doctoral degree or equivalent.
  • Receipt of the scholarship is conditional upon you commencing your period of study by registering no later than 1st October in the academic year for which the award is offered.
  • Scholarships cannot be deferred to a later year.
  • Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this Scholarship.

Project description

There has been a growing recognition that poor menstrual health negatively affects development outcomes for adolescent girls, in turn undermining the commitment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘leave no one behind’ and slowing progress towards achieving SDGs 3-6,8 and 10. Tackling menstruation-related challenges demands interdisciplinary efforts, cutting across the sciences (water, sanitation and health or “WASH”) and social sciences (education, gender studies).

The proposed PhD studentship, in collaboration with Irise International, will build an interdisciplinary and comparative understanding of how menstrual stigma impacts on vulnerable adolescent girls in low- and high-income contexts, and what policy makers and programmers can do to address this.  Irise’s recent research and evaluation (2017) concluded that negative social norms associated with menstruation prevent girls from taking full advantage of menstrual hygiene management education and product provision.

Evidence is also emerging of how menstrual stigma affects adolescent girls in developed country contexts, as detailed in a recent Plan International UK report (Tingle and Vora 2018)There is a need to stimulate a dialogue about menstrual hygiene management and ‘period poverty’ globally, building an understanding of menstrual health and hygiene (MHH)-related deprivation as not merely a function of material poverty, but a manifestation of intersectional inequalities. This will enable policy makers and practitioners to respond effectively to this neglected global challenge. 

Key research questions

The candidate will help to shape the research but we expect the project to be guided by the following key questions:

  • Why does menstrual stigma persist and how is it affecting vulnerable adolescent girls’ self-esteem, self-efficacy and well-being in the UK and Uganda?
  • Why and how do gendered social norms validate and perpetuate menstrual stigma and its effects in the UK and Uganda?
  • What approaches can policy makers and programmers take to addressing negative menstrual related social norms that support vulnerable adolescent girls’ agency and empowerment?

Entry requirements

Candidates should hold a 2:1 first degree or equivalent and a merit of higher Masters degree (or expected grade if not yet completed).

How to apply

Download an application form and return your completed application to by the closing date.

You will also need to have submitted a PHD application to the School identifying this pre-defined project title and provided full supporting documentation: transcripts and degree certificates, two references and (in lieu of a research proposal) a short supporting statement of 1-2 pages addressing your reasons for applying for this project, your suitability for the project and how you would respond to the research questions as set out in the project description.

You can apply for a PHD at

How to apply (email)

How to apply (phone)

+44 (0)113 343 8056