PERIOD movement : Nadya Okamoto
A chat with Founder of PERIOD (period.org), and author of Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, Nadya Okamoto, who is using her organization to end period poverty and stigma. With Simply Genz she discussed how she started the PERIOD movement, challenges, her debut book Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, and her achievements!
When and why did you start the period movement?
I founded PERIOD in 2014 with my friend, Vincent Forand. We were both 16-years-old at the time! We started by mobilizing in our local area of Portland, Oregon, and by creating opportunities for others to get involved. At the time, our goal was to serve 20 periods a week for homeless women in Portland, Oregon. But, within a few months, our goals had expanded both geographically and with the impact, we were working to make.
I was inspired to start PERIOD after learning about period poverty directly from homeless women that I spoke to, and after I learned that at the time, 40 states in the US had the “tampon tax” — a sales tax on period products considering them luxury goods.
What inspired you to begin the revolution?
It’s important to recognize that I, in no way, started this revolution/movement. This movement to talk about periods and normalize menstruation is something that I am thankful to play one small part 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 (periods are the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries), the effects for disadvantaged menstruators here in the US, and the systemic barriers to proper menstrual health management. I continued to become more passionate about addressing period poverty and taking down the tampon tax.
What led you to write Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement and what makes it necessary for everyone to read it?
I wrote PERIOD POWER as a way to spark more conversations about periods, and try to create a resource hub for any reader to find more information about periods and period-health, and learn more about the fight against period poverty and period stigma.
How do you deal with stress and big challenges?
I’ve been trying to stick to a strict morning routine of meditating and journaling every morning. I also have recommitted to at least one therapy session a week, and I know how much of a privilege it is to have easy access now to mental health support.
Upcoming goals and objectives for the period movement and how one can volunteer?
I stepped down as Executive Director of the PERIOD in January 2020, but you can find out more at period.org. I’m so inspired by the current team there that continues to mobilize and support local chapters to fight for menstrual equity in their own communities.
Thank you for taking the time and answering our questions Nadya!