XXY in Conversation: #FreePeriods Campaign Founder Amika George

XXY in Conversation: #FreePeriods Campaign Founder Amika George

Amika George is the young and ambitious millennial everyone is talking about. If you aren’t familiar with the name, then you should be, regardless of whether you own ovaries or not. She is the founder of the #FreePeriods campaign. At the age of just eighteen, George became the founder of the #FreePeriods campaign after reading a report which stated that within the UK there is period poverty resulting in girls missing school to avoid the risk of embarrassment. It was the ignorance of the government that pushed her to start the campaign. Amika wants to continue to change the taboo behind  female menstruation and we stand with her.

I spoke to Amika about the success of The Pink Protest. The protest was founded by columnist Scarlett Curtis, Grace Campbell and Amika herself. The trios aim was for the Prime Minister Theresa May to make sanitary products free for every girl in the UK who receive free school meals.

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Nicole Howarth: Do you think The Pink Protest which took place on Wednesday 20th December was successful?

Amika George: It was massively successful! Actually, it exceeded our expectations. There were hundreds of people of all ages and gender holding some of the most creative and clever banners I’ve seen, braving the cold and choosing to be at the #FreePeriods protest rather than any Christmas party they may have been at.

They were angry, they were disillusioned, they were hungry for change. It was incredible to feel the energy of everyone who was standing together for all the children who couldn’t afford menstrual products. The press were out in force – we had ITV, BBC, Channel 4 News, CNN, you name it. That was important because we wanted to make some noise and we wanted the government to see how mobilised people were, and how ready we are to see action.

NH: What do you feel that you achieved?  

AG: We certainly thrust the term period poverty out there! #FreePeriods was trending on Twitter and it was one of the key hashtags used by MPs that day, and we were encouraged by that engagement. We wanted to get the attention of Mrs May and her government, and we hope that they were listening. It was pretty incredible that so many people have contacted me since to say they want to help and be a part of the movement.

NH: Have you had a good response from the public?

AG: The public have been phenomenal. People of all ages want to be a part of the movement in some way and that’s so important. They want to run groups near where they live, organise donations and raise awareness. It’s just amazing!

NH: Are you surprised by the support that you have received from certain people?

AG: I’ve been contacted by young men who’ve said they are totally in support of ending period poverty. This is really important because it shows that some men are comfortable having conversations on menstruation. We’ve come a long way but we have more work to do to break the silence and smash the taboo around periods. People contacted me from across the globe, from Midwest USA to Nepal to say they see period poverty affecting their communities and they want to work to end the stigma where they live.

NH: There was an image from the protest Free Periods posted which was captioned “last night was just the beginning”, what do you have planned next?

AG: We want to meet with Justine Greening or Theresa May to present our solution to them, and to persuade them that we need a statutory pledge to make sure that every child can access menstrual products. We will have more protests if we need to and our voices will ring louder. We will keep pushing and fighting until we see action.

@freeperiods protest ❣️

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Written by Nicole Howarth,

Contributor

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