Holly Liebl

Is Social Control through Menstrual Untouchability Changing in Urban Nepal?

Supervisors: Dr Paul Jackson; Dr Claire Mcloughlin

As a continuation of my MSc in Poverty, Inequality and Development, Holly is investigating and researching the possible changing tides of menstrual stigmas, cultural norms and societal control for urban Nepali women.  Holly seeks to identify if change is occurring, to what degree and why. In my Master’s field work, Holly discovered the ambitions of urban Nepali women of various ages seeking to challenge and change societal control and cultural norms surrounding the silent topic of menstruation.  Although they have conveyed these aspirations, they’ve echoed numerous barriers they would need to overcome to achieve this new level of female agency in a dominant, highly conservative patriarchal society. 

While reiterating social control mechanisms and implications, Holly seeks to understand the connections between social control and social norms of menstrual untouchability.  If change is occurring, who are the mavericks, how does their life differ challenging these norms versus those who have been socialized to accept them, despite their infringement on human rights and freedoms?  These are the types of investigations and answers Holly seeks in this PhD journey. 

As someone who has established strong friendships and networks in the Kathmandu Valley, her research aspires to assist and inform grassroots efforts and practitioners in mobilizing patriarchal undertones that threaten reproductive, mental, social and economic well-being for local Nepali women and girls.


Holly is a high school social studies teacher from Pennsylvania, USA and just two years ago Holly spent a year on sabbatical at the University of Birmingham to pursue my MSc in Poverty, Inequality and Development. Holly's master's thesis focused on the stigmatisation of menstruation in urban Nepal, which opened up new avenues and curiosities on women's agency and the push for change as my PhD focus. Holly has started the PhD in International Development this past February and am studying as a long-distance learner while teaching full-time. 

Holly is a two-time Fulbright-Hays scholar (southern Africa (2008) and Bulgaria/Greece (2017)), international volunteer and have had experience teaching English as an international teacher in Nepal, Lesotho, S. Africa, China and Bulgaria.  These opportunities were available through World Teach, U.S. Federal Fulbright-Hays programs, and IPIE (International Partnerships in Education).  


  • BA (History) with Secondary Ed. Certification cum laude (DeSales University, USA)
  • MSc in Poverty, Inequality and Development with Distinction (University of Birmingham, UK)

Research Interests 

  • Social Control Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Agency and Patriarchal Systems
  • Urban Nepal

Professional Memberships 

  • QCEA- Local teachers’ union (employment)
  • PSEA- State teachers’ union
  • NEA- National teachers’ union