Amika George is the 18-year-old founding father of #FreePeriods. Like many people, Amika was shocked to find that many younger girls within the UK can not afford sanitary objects after they’re on their interval. Not one to sit down there and let the difficulty resolve itself, Amika took motion by beginning the #FreePeriods marketing campaign. Schoolgirl by day, activist by night time.
Regularly choosing up momentum since its inception this spring, Amika’s #FreePeriods will finish the yr on a excessive with a peaceable protest on December 20 calling for prime minister Theresa Could to “present free menstruation merchandise for all women already on free faculty meals.”
Vogue contributing editor Adwoa Aboah might be talking, so too will MPs Jess Phillips and Paula Sherrif, whereas Suki Waterhouse, Daisy Lowe and Tanya Burr are additionally going to be in attendance.
Earlier than the protest begins, we crown Amika George our subsequent Woman On A Mission.
When did you resolve to start out #FreePeriods?
I began #FreePeriods in April this yr after I learn an article that absolutely horrified me. I learn how there have been women dwelling within the UK who couldn’t afford to purchase menstrual merchandise, and would improvise each month with socks Sellotaped to their knickers and stuffed wth rest room roll stolen from public loos, or would tear up outdated T-shirts and use these.
I felt sickened that this was occurring in a rich nation like ours, and worse nonetheless, that no motion had been taken. Women had been lacking faculty as a result of they daren’t go to highschool with out safety – the implications didn’t bear serious about. I began a petition to name on the federal government to supply free menstrual merchandise to ladies from low-income households, and determined to unfold the phrase and speak unashamedly, not nearly interval poverty however about menstruation!
Why does this trigger really feel so vital to you?
It’s so vital as a result of as younger lady, we face a mess of hurdles in our combat for equality. To suppose that we bleed due to a bodily operate we now have no management over and have that as a further impediment is so unfair! No woman ought to be lacking faculty as a result of she will be able to’t afford to have a interval. No woman ought to be confronted the indignity and fixed stress of realizing she’s bled over her uniform in entrance of her class as a result of she will be able to solely afford one tampon or pad, or worse nonetheless, no tampon or pad. These women lag behind of their schooling due to sustained gaps of their studying, and by no means obtain their targets. That’s not truthful. The federal government isn’t taking motion and locations the accountability firmly within the lap of the colleges who’re already so outrageously stretched of their funding, or mother and father, who typically depend on meals financial institution handouts to feed their youngsters. The #FreePeriods marketing campaign can also be about breaking down the ridiculously outdated stigma round menstruation – it has to go – we have to embrace our intervals and be proud to bleed. We have to have fun and never disguise our intervals!
When you may sum up the ethos of the mission in 5 phrases, what would they be?
Preventing injustice, praising interval energy!
How do you suppose being a younger lady campaigner impacts the outcomes of your success?
I feel that women can relate to me since I’m a schoolgirl myself and know I’ll perceive the ramifications of lacking weeks of faculty and getting slowed down in mountains of catch-up classes, so women are open in telling me how interval poverty impacts them. That then simply makes me combat more durable for them!
The negativity I hear generally in combating for what’s perceived as a “lady’s problem” is inevitable and unsurprising; feedback from some males like “I don’t wish to hear about intervals after I’m consuming my breakfast” or feedback like “if you’d like pads, I would like razors” are, fortunately, not that frequent. However in 2017, so many ladies have achieved exceptional issues and it’s an period the place girls really feel empowered and emboldened to not settle for the established order.
What has been the most important impediment you’ve confronted up to now?
The silence surrounding menstruation implies that individuals don’t all the time really feel comfy speaking about interval poverty. I’ve seen grown males gingerly shuffle away after I broach the topic, and I’ve misplaced depend of the variety of pink faces I’ve seen after I point out the phrase interval. The taboo round intervals implies that males really feel it’s not their downside and that is partly as a result of girls are additionally sick comfortable in discussing menstruation between ourselves. We speak in whispers and in apologetic tones to one another, to our associates, to our sisters. Until we break the stigma and normalise dialog round menstruation, we’ll by no means settle for that intervals make girls unbelievable and our our bodies highly effective.
You’ve actively used social media – what do you suppose the importance of those platforms is for activism proper now?
Over 83ok individuals have added their title to the #FreePeriods on-line petition, and that is nonetheless rising. Collectively, we’re the collective (and international) military who’re unequivocal in demanding change. Social media provides us a very highly effective weapon and it’s really easy now to mobilise individuals into motion – I began my marketing campaign by myself one wet Friday from my bed room, however not as soon as have I felt like I used to be on this by myself! Along with the Pink Protest, we’re organising the #FreePeriods protest for December 20, and social media has enabled us to unfold the phrase, publicise audio system, and create a platform for individuals all over the place to know that they’re taking part and are instrumental in eliciting change.
How does it really feel while you see the work you’ve executed truly instantly affect individuals in a optimistic method?
There are fantastic campaigners on the market who’re additionally combating interval poverty and for these women who’re affected by interval poverty each month, they know they now have a voice by means of us. Simply speaking in regards to the marketing campaign, in whichever platform I can, whether or not it’s on TV, in newspapers or in colleges means we’re speaking about menstruation, and that’s good. Women have instructed me that they really feel extra comfy speaking to lecturers about it as a result of they really feel they are often extra open about intervals. That’s extremely vital in serving to us to gauge the magnitude of the issue in colleges and understanding what precisely is required as an answer.
One thing that’s inspired and motivated me is seeing how different younger individuals who’re concerned within the #FreePeriods marketing campaign have themselves discovered private fulfilment in activism. A teenage woman who dropped out of faculty as a result of she suffered from nervousness who’s serving to with our marketing campaign tells me she’s found her voice could make an actual distinction and appears like she’s contributing to society in a optimistic method; two Welsh teenage boys who had been impressed to start out a charity to gather menstrual merchandise for homeless girls gave me such a lift in seeing that males are beginning to see interval poverty as a difficulty that everybody should resolve collectively!
Who would you like to see assist #FreePeriods?
Ladies who’ve a world voice, like Meghan Markle, are instrumental in highlighting points that lie dormant or want consideration to get media curiosity. Meghan’s been a fierce advocate for combating interval poverty and she or he’s witnessed how interval poverty can rob women of their childhood and their schooling. However I’d love everybody to assist us! We’d like everybody to put in writing to their native MPs, urging them to boost interval poverty in parliament, we want everybody to come back to the protest, to put in writing about it, to speak about it, and simply make as a lot noise as attainable about needing the federal government to make change occur. Quickly.
Lastly, you’ve 150 phrases to make use of as a little bit of a Soapbox to say no matter you need in regards to the problem you assist – go for it!
The #FreePeriods motion is gathering tempo and I urge everybody to be part of it. Please come to the protest and take a stand in opposition to interval poverty. We’d like to verify women will be whoever they wish to be and schooling is commonly the best method to obtain that. With out schooling, women turn out to be trapped within the cycle of poverty for generations. A standard organic course of affecting half of the world’s inhabitants shouldn’t cease any of us from being one of the best model of ourselves, ought to by no means make us really feel ashamed of our our bodies and may by no means inhibit us from having an equal platform during which to excel as boys. Let’s reward the interval and inform everybody you meet about how bloody exceptional our our bodies are.
The Interval Protest will happen on December 20 at 5pm assembly at Richmond Terrace