Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of period activist, Amika George.
When Amika George was 17, she started the #FreePeriods campaign to raise awareness about the stigma around period poverty and menstruation. She started a petition to Westminster that gained over 200,000 signatures and led a period poverty protest of 2,000 people outside U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s home. Amika wanted the government to fund the distribution of menstrual products to girls and women who couldn’t afford them, and she was instrumental in convincing the government to set aside £1.5 million in 2018 to help alleviate period poverty. In March 2019, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would fund free sanitary products in all secondary schools — Hammond said that “the government was responding to concerns from head teachers that some girls were missing school because they could not afford sanitary products,” as per the BBC.
Last year, the Scottish government announced a £5.2 million plan to provide free menstrual products in schools and universities and England is now poised to develop a similar plan. According to the BBC, citing Plan International, 1 in 10 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 in the UK have been unable to afford menstrual products and 49 percent have missed a whole day of school because of their period.
Amika has also said that while the adoption of funds for sanitary products for teenagers is a welcome first step, the funds should also be applied to primary schools because girls as young as eight can get their periods.
The 19-year-old has also been honored for her activism and has appeared on the Time Most Influential Teens of 2018 list, Teen Vogue 21 under 21 and won a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeeper Campaign Award in 2018. Currently she is studying History at the University of Cambridge and continuing to advocate for menstruating girls and women. Check out her 2017 TED talk here, and visit her website, Free Periods, for more information about period poverty and what you can do to help.
Girl Museum Inc.