Nadya Okamoto: A young activist pushing for change surrounding period poverty
We all fall on hard times. It can be the bleakest and saddest moments of our lives when we face difficulty, especially if that difficulty is losing your job and no longer being able to take full care of your family. This happened to a young 16-year-old girl in 2014, her name is Nadya Okamoto and her family became homeless when her mother lost her job. Nadya’s story of where she is now started during a time in her life where she didn’t have much, but decided to make the most out of her situation.
Her family’s new living arrangements meant new adjustments to her lifestyle-- specifically, her transportation to and from school everyday. Nadya’s 10 minute commute to school turned into a two hour commute using the bus and eventually she became familiar with the homeless women that were along her daily bus route. She asked them about their lives and, most importantly, what’s the hardest thing about being homeless? She soon found out that the most common answer was the inaccessibility of period products.
From that moment, Nadya made the choice to be an advocate for change when it comes to period poverty.
At the age of 16, Nadya Okamoto founded Period., a non-profit organization that works to end period poverty and period stigma through service, education and advocacy. Over the course of four years, Period has addressed over 560,000 periods, registered over 360 campus chapters to be the largest youth-run non-profit organization in women’s health. Nadya’s hard times birthed an incredible platform for change! Now, at 21-years-old, she is at the head of the “Menstrual Movement.” Nadya and her team aim to continuously publicly discuss periods and raise awareness through growing conversation.
With the three pillars of Period being service, education and advocacy-- you may be wondering how they do all of these things. In order to serve, they deliver periods packs to those in need all over the country. To educated, they work to “elevate the issue to eliminate the taboo through growing network of high school, college and community chapters.” Lastly, for them, being an advocate means “raising awareness and creating change through events campaigns and media relationships. All of these things combined together have made for a strong and growing organization!
“Menstrual hygiene is not a luxury, it’s a right,” Nadya says. Period wants to repeal the tampon tax and lobby for menstrual products in public places for those who aren’t able to access them.
You can officially celebrate National Period Day with the organization this year on October 19, 2019. There will be inclusive rallies in all 50 states to bring attention to the issue of period poverty. You get the chance to see how one girl, Nadya Okamoto, turned her experience into activism.
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