Tampons and pads can be a hassle, but have you ever thought of what your period would be like if you didn’t have them at all?
That was the case for Nadya Okamoto, founder of PERIOD, which donates menstrual products to women in need. Now she is a Harvard student and a Women of Worth honoree, but when she was 15 and her family was homeless, Okamoto faced that very challenge. She used to talk to other women who were too embarrassed to ask for menstrual products, and later started the movement.
And it was sorely needed, as nearly one in four women struggle to access period products. Just four percent of people in a U by Kotex survey knew where to get free or discounted products.
Nearly half of all respondents in that survey thought the lack of products was an international issue, the problem still persists in America.
Okamoto recently teamed up with U by Kotex for its With U, She Can program. Kotex is the founding sponsor of the Alliance for Period Supplies, and is kicking off the program this month by donating 2 million period products to the alliance. Consumers can donate to the cause or buy Kotex products to help others.
Silence the Stigma—Get Period Proud
One topic close to her heart is getting rid of the stigma that surrounds women having periods.
“It’s hard to believe we still can’t speak openly around something that happens every month, on an average of 40 years to nearly half the population,” Okamoto said. “We still treat periods as a taboo topic and I believe we need to start talking about periods as it is natural and menstrual hygiene as necessary.”
That’s why Okamoto just launched #PERIODPROUD, a social campaign that encourages people to stop hiding tampons up their sleeves or taking bags to the bathroom so people don’t know we menstruate. They’re encouraging women to hold a period product in public and share why you’re proud to have your period…then nominate friends to do the same.