Every month I walk into the store and buy myself and my daughter everything we may need for our monthly period without giving it a second thought. I load up the cart with tampons, pads and pantyliners right next to my frozen veggies, milk and cottage cheese during my grocery store run. But not every woman and teenage girl has that luxury.
Not all woman have access to the menstrual products they need and, as a result, some have resorted to using materials that can compromise their health. And 19-Year-Old Nadya Okamoto is doing something about it by spreading awareness about menstrual safety.
Okamoto co-founded the non-profit PERIOD Inc. with high school classmate, Vincent Forand, after she talked with some homeless women about the struggle they face during their period each month. Without access the the necessary products, these women have had to use toilet paper, socks, and even cardboard as makeshift maxi pads.
Through PERIOD Inc., Okamoto is striving to create “equitable access to menstrual hygiene,” and is pushing to change the dialogue we’ve been having around women’s monthly menstrual cycles since forever.
No woman should be putting pieces of cardboard next to their skin in order to keep their period under control under any circumstances. This is something that can be helped with a little effort and time which can make a world of difference to so many women who simply can not afford a box of tampons of maxipads each month, not to mention the young teenage girls who are too ashamed to ask for help, and might know where to turn to ask for something as small as a few maxi pads each month or tampons each month.
Just thinking about having to go through that all the time, or have my daughter go through that, reminds me to promptly check my privilege — and I’m guessing, this is something many of us take for granted. We complain how we want to lie in bed all day and eat chocolate while there are people out there who literally don’t have a choice in the matter and are left using scraps of garbage, or whatever they can find to contain their period, which isn’t safe and can lead to additional problems.
To date, PERIOD Inc. has “addressed over 200,000 periods through product distribution.” How amazing is that?
When I was 19 years ago, I certainly wasn’t working my ass off to ensure more women could have access to proper sanitary products during their period. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind there was such a problem. But it’s never too late to get involved. PERIOD Inc. is on the horizon to expand and will continue to work hard for “local and federal party changes to better support women’s rights to safe and hygienic period products.”
The world needs more young women and men like Okamoto and Forand. They are setting a tremendous example of just how capable we all are and how doing something like providing women with monthly products can make a huge impact.