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 Nadya Okamoto.
21-year-old Nadya Okamoto’s obsession with period activism and equality came from a very personal place — when she was in high school, she was temporarily homeless when her family fell on hard times. She befriended other homeless women who were worse off than she was and heard their stories about using toilet paper, socks, cardboard and other materials to absorb their menstrual blood, and became invested in the issue.
When Nadya was 16, she founded Period: The Menstrual Movement, with a high school classmate, Vincent Forand. Period is a global, youth-run nonprofit that provides period products to people in need while working to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene and the barriers that people can face while trying to obtain menstrual hygiene products. Nadya is the founder and executive director of the organization.
The nonprofit distributes menstrual products to those in need and seeks to educate and engage youth through campus chapters. They work toward legal and social change around menstrual equity, like ending the “pink tax.” In the past four years, the group has delivered more than 310,000 menstrual products such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them.
Currently, Nadya is on a leave of absence from Harvard University, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed her down any. When she was on school leave, she wrote a book while running for local office (she lost, but I have no doubt she will run again!), while also continuing her work with the nonprofit that she founded and scheduling speaking engagements across the U.S.
In October 2018, Nadya published Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement — full disclosure, I have a copy that I got months ago that I have been meaning to read and review. So stay tuned on that, it’s coming eventually!
In my opinion, Nadya is definitely a kick ass, incredible girl, and I can’t wait to see what she does next (and to read her book one day!)
Girl Museum, Inc.