Menstrual Equity Activist Amika George is a teenager with a steadfast commitment to bring about social change and transform the world into a better place for many girls and women struggling in secret.
Unfazed and undeterred by any social stigmas, George, a nineteen year old self-described menstrual equity activist, has led a successful campaign that has drawn the attention not just of UK political change-makers, but has gained global recognition for her cause.
Starting out on her campaign for free menstrual products for schoolgirls from low-income families, George aimed to get just ten signatures on a petition asking Prime Minister Theresa May to give all girls who are eligible for free lunch in the UK free menstrual products as well, Teen Vogue reported. But the petition went on to have 2,000 signatures, and a little more than a year later, the signature count was close to 200,000.
In April 2017, George started #FreePeriods to make sure that no girl in the U.K. was living in “period poverty,” a term that refers to being unable to access menstrual products because of financial challenges.
“I’d like to think that the idea of the embarrassment and shame [about periods will be gone]. I think we are moving forward now,” George told Teen Vogue. “People are starting to question this idea that menstruation is disgusting.”
George was nominated for Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 list by actor Emma Watson for her pioneering work toward menstrual equality, and TIME has included her in its 25 Most Influential Teens of 2018 list as well.
“It really upset me,” George told TIME of learning that many girls in the UK were regularly missing school during their periods because they couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. “The government knew this was happening on their watch, but they were refusing to find a solution.”
But despite all the accolades she has received, George, who was granted the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers Campaign Award this year as well, says she is just getting started. “We can’t trust our policymakers to take action on issues that seem so obvious to us,” she said. “If we want to see change, it falls on us to create that change,” TIME reported.