Meet Nadya Okamoto at Gothenburg Book Fair
In September, My Period Is Awesome will exhibit at Scandinavia’s largest cultural event: Gothenburg Book Fair. One of our guests at the fair is Nadya Okamoto, and we think it’s time for a thorough introduction!
Nadya Okamoto, who grew up in Portland, Oregon, is a 21-years-old Harvard student on a leave of absence. She is the Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD (period.org), an organization she founded at the age of 16. PERIOD is now the largest youth-run NGO in women’s health, and one of the fastest growing ones in the United States. Since 2014 they have addressed over 560,000 periods and registered over 400 campus chapters. Nadya recently published her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement with publisher Simon & Schuster, which made the Kirkus Reviews list for Best Young Adult Nonfiction of 2018. Nadya is the Chief Brand Officer of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z marketing agency based in NYC. Most recently, she was named to InStyle Magazine’s “The Badass 50: Meet the Women Who Are Changing the World” list, along with Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
How did you get involved in the menstrual equity movement?
I founded PERIOD when I was 16-years-old, as a junior in high school, after my family experienced living without a home of our own for several months. During this time, on my commute to school on the public bus, I had many conversations with homeless women in much worse living situations than I was in. I was inspired to learn more about menstrual inequity and period poverty after collecting an anthology of stories of their using toilet paper, socks, brown paper grocery bags, cardboard, and more, to take care of something so natural. Via google searches, I learned about the barrier that menstruation has for girls in school around the globe (they are the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries), about the effects for disadvantaged menstruators here in the US, and the systemic barriers to proper menstrual health management. It’s 2019, and yet, 34 US states still have a sales tax on period products because they are considered luxury items (unlike Rogaine and Viagra), period-related pain is a leading cause of absenteeism amongst girls in school, and periods are the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries. Over half of our global population menstruates for an average of 40 years of their life on a monthly basis and has been doing so since the beginning of humankind. It’s about time we take action.
What is your best memory from your work with menstrual equity?
PERIOD CON! Some of my favorite moments are getting to work with and meet our incredible chapter leaders from around the world. I find those moments so beautiful because we all have these shared experiences of often feeling like the only ones in our community who care about period poverty, and have all been teased about being so passionate about menstrual equity - and then we all come together around that shared passion! It’s wonderful. You can find some more info about PERIOD CON, our global conference, and past videos online period.org.
What aspect of the menstrual equity movement will you focus on during the Swedish Book Fair?
I would love to focus on how this is a global movement that is all united around the fight to BREAK THE STIGMA and say that MENSTRUAL EQUITY IS A RIGHT AND NOT A PRIVILEGE.
Thank you Nadya Okamoto, we are very excited to meet you and hear you speak at the Gothenburg Book Fair in September!