Some time back, the news of girls as young as 10-years-old in the northern English city of Leeds missing a week of school every month had surfaced.
The reason? Their families couldn’t afford to buy them sanitary napkins.
When 17-year-old Amika George, who is based in North London and originally hails Kerala, heard about it – she was shocked. She was convinced she had to do something about.
The story is not unusual. Millions of girls around the world drop out of school or miss classes every month for not being able to afford menstrual products.
Amika decided this ‘period poverty’ had to end.
This is how her campaign ‘#FreePeriods’ came into existence in London. She started a petition in which she asks the UK government to provide free menstrual products to all children on free school meals.
1,39,458 people have so far signed her petition.
“Children as young as 11 suffer the shame of using socks or taping tissue to underwear. It is not only unacceptable but can seriously jeopardise their health,” she writes in the petition.
According to The Hindu, thousands of protesters, which included politicians, activists and models, had gathered outside Downing Street last month to protest against ‘period poverty’ in the UK. They wanted free sanitary napkins to be provided to the poorest students.
Amika is actively involved with this campaign and has received support from the world over. She wants to expand the campaign beyond the UK so that it reaches out to lawmakers globally.
“I’d really like to connect with campaigners in India to work to end the taboo and campaign to ensure all girls can access menstrual products. It’s staggering that we haven’t really moved away from the taboos our grandmothers faced back in their days, but it horrifies me that there are thousands of girls in India who drop out of school altogether and feel ashamed to go back because they have their period,” she told The Hindu.