Disability, Menstrual Health and Gender: Menstrual Health and Women with Visual Impairment from Higher Educational Institutions in Colombo

Final project
Year of publication:


Women with visual impairment and disabilities face many challenges in society due to their gender and disability. With menstruation as an integral part of women's lives at some point it can impact many aspects of her life. Women with visual impairments face menstrual health challenges in various social settings and their experiences with menstruation can impact their health and wellbeing. This research aims to study the menstrual health-related issues faced by women with visual impairments through a life course approach with the use of the social model of disability and intersectionality lens. The study was conducted using the narrative research method, which analyzed the lived experiences of four women with visual impairments from higher educational institutes in Colombo. These women shared their experiences about menstruation at different points in their lives and those narratives were analyzed. The results of the study showed that women did not have information or awareness on menstruation when they experienced menarche and the initial information they received from family members were mostly myths and misconceptions around menstruation. Women also faced challenges in public spaces, institutions, and workplaces with regard to menstrual health due to the cultural taboo around menstruation and inaccessible washrooms. In these situations, women with visual impairment had to depend on the support of their friends and the kindness of strangers to access washrooms and buy pads. To address these issues and make spaces and institutions accessible for women with visual impairments, information provision on menstrual health and sexual and reproductive health must be strengthened through accessible Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) provision in Schools. Furthermore, gender-sensitive accessibility policies and guidelines must be implemented in institutions and organizations. Along with these measures need to be taken to raise awareness on disability accessibility and inclusion among the general public to reduce social stigma and discrimination.