Who we are

The Menstrual Health Evidence Team is part of the Global Adolescent Health Working Group at Burnet, Australia. 

 Our team works to provide rigorous evidence contributing to achieve: 

  • The acknowledgement of menstrual health as a global priority for health and gender equity.  
  • Evidence-informed policy and service delivery for menstrual health. 
  • Support that ensures no one is left behind, and that draws on nuanced contextual understanding. 

We are building and supporting others to build the evidence-base for menstrual health. We do this by undertaking rigorous research and providing validated menstrual health measures.  By capturing the prevalence and impacts of unmet menstrual health needs, we can inform policy and programming, to ensure menstrual health is achieved for those who experience it.

What is menstrual health

MH Definitions v3

Why it matters

Menstrual health is integral to gender equality and the wellbeing of women, adolescent girls, and all those who menstruate. 

Despite increased attention to menstrual health over the past decade, millions continue to struggle. Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty, and lack of basic services often cause menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet. The result is far-reaching negative impacts on the lives of those who menstruate: restricting mobility; freedom and choices; affecting attendance and participation in school and community life; compromising their safety; and causing stress and anxiety.  

Our team leader

Julie v2

Dr. Julie Hennegan

Co-Head Global Adolescent Health Working Group | Senior Research Fellow | RGHI Fellow & NHMRC EL Investigator

I am a Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute Fellow, and hold an NHMRC Early Leadership Investigator Grant. Since 2013, my research has used mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to understand, define and measure menstrual health needs, and to test the effectiveness of menstrual health interventions.

I believe adolescent girls, women, and all people who menstruate around the world deserve menstrual health, and policies and programmes that work.

I am thrilled that our team is able to share our work with you through this platform, and am grateful to our many incredible collaborators without whom none of this work would be possible.

I hold a DPhil and MSc in Evidence Based Social Intervention from the University of Oxford and BPsySc(hons) from the University of Queensland.

Our Team

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Dr. Laura Dunstan

Senior Research Officer

I am a sociologist, pursuing a critical understanding of the relational, socio-economic, and gendered determinants of health and wellbeing for women and girls, and families across diverse and disadvantaged contexts in Australia and internationally. I am experienced in quantitative research methods, having previously collaborated on large social and health research projects focussed on Indigenous children’s health and wellbeing, family wellbeing and policies, and disability in Australia. I bring this experience to my current role in project management and primary data analysis across projects dedicated to improving menstrual health and wellbeing across the life course for girls in Bangladesh and people in Australia.

Ali.Head circle

Alexandra Head

Research Assistant

I work across several local and global menstrual health studies and lead the strategic engagement and research translation for our team. My focus is on qualitative research, recognising the depth that qualitative data gives to the breadth of quantitative data.

I have had experience working in East Asia and the Pacific, and provide project management to our collaborative with in the region. I provide support to our longitudinal cohort study in Khulna, Bangladesh through development and implementation of training. Additionally, I lead our Australia-based portfolio on informed product choice, reusable menstrual products and government provision of free menstrual products.

My passion for gender equality has seen me specialise in gender and social inclusion. At Burnet I am part of the Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion (GEDI) committee. Previously, working across the Asia Pacific region as a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) specialist, working on minimum standards for programs and policies within organisational structures as well as for the communities they serve. I hold an Masters of International Relations and a Bachelor of Design.

Farhana Sultana 1 v2

Farhana Sultana

Research Assistant, Burnet Institute, Australia Associate Scientist, icddr,b Bangladesh

I have over 15 years' experience working on WASH and menstrual health in Bangladesh. I was the grantee of BMGF, GCC and IsDB funds to lead menstrual health and nutrition interventions in Bangladesh as a chief investigator and developed/co-developed patentable innovations including the Sultana-icddr,b Reusable Cloth Pad, Sultana Washer and Dryer Bags for hygienic cleansing of reusable pads, and Jute Cellulose-Based Biodegradable Sanitary Pads. My teams ongoing research in Bangladesh includes exploring the associations between heavy menstrual bleeding and anaemia, developing a nutrient bar to combat iron deficiency anaemia and an animated video skit to destigmatize menstrual health in Bangladesh.

I am an expert in formative and qualitative research with some experience in quantitative analyses of complex data covering topics of sex, steroids, and dementia in postmenopausal Australian women. I hold an MPH in Global Health from the University of Melbourne, received training on adolescent health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and graduated in Social Anthropology from Bangladesh. I am an PhD candidate at Monash University.

Our students

Heather v2

Heather Suttor

Research Assistant/PhD candidate - Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Heather currently supports the menstrual health team across a range of studies.

Heather is also completing a PhD at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne under the co-supervision of Dr. Julie Hennegan (Burnet). Her research considers the role of digital tools and online engagement in relation to menstrual health experiences. She focuses on designing and using qualitative and participatory methods with young populations in Indonesia. Heather holds an MA in Anthropology from The Graduate Institute, Geneva. Before joining Burnet, Heather led and supported various global health implementation and research projects.