Catch up on the week’s events that might have passed you by, thanks to our very inspiring friends at The Cramm!
What went down:
Over the past week, California’s dealt with more than a dozen huge fires — in particular, the Kincade Fire (in the north) and the Getty Fire (in the south). These fires burned well over a hundred thousand acres, with thousands of people being forced to evacuate across the state. And the fires were only made worse by hurricane-force wind gusts — apparently the strongest in a decade.
California’s not the only place facing massive fires. In Brazil, wildfires hit the country’s Pantanal wetlands, burning over 125,000 acres. The gov described the situation as “critical.”
Speaking of which, a new study on climate change said the effects of rising sea levels will be much worse than previously thought. Three times worse. See: 150 million people will be living below the high-tide line by 2050 — with cities like Bangkok, Ho Chi Man City, Shanghai, and Mumbai underwater.
In other news, all eyes were on the Keystone Pipeline. Hint: part of the pipeline was shut down after around 383,000 gallons of gas leaked out into the environment. Not good.
Meanwhile, the NCAA made some changes. As in they’ll now be letting athletes profit from their name, image, and likeness. Slam dunk.
Who else made sports headlines? The Washington Nationals. They beat the Houston Astros in the World Series — marking the franchise’s first World Series win.
Oh, and school was back in session in Chicago after 11 days of a teachers’ strike. A+ in protesting.
What’s up next:
Get ready to fall back — today marks the end of Daylight Saving Time for everyone in the US (minus Arizona and Hawaii). And later this week, look forward to National Cappuccino Day, National Men Make Dinner Day, National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day, National Nachos Day, National Doughnut Day, National Candy Day, and National Sandwich Day. Yes, this is all in the same week. No, we’re not mad about it. Meanwhile, the UK’s putting an end to fracking — reportedly due to safety concerns. Over in the US, some states (looking at you, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia) are heading to the polls in an off-year election. The election’s set for November 5th. Oh, and the stock market’s looking to break some records.
Why you should be feeling inspired:
Meet Nadya Okamoto. She’s the 21-year-old founder and executive director of PERIOD, an organization that works to raise awareness around periods and distribute tampons, pads, and menstrual cups to those in need. Since its start, PERIOD has addressed over 850,000 periods and become one of the fastest-growing NGOs in the US. Not a typo. Plus Nadya’s made InStyle Magazine’s “Badass 50: Meet the Women Who Are Changing the World” list — along with Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
What inspired you to start PERIOD? How have you been able to kickstart the conversation around menstruation?
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, 35 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 was the response from your community and peers in the early years of PERIOD?
Starting an organization focused on periods was definitely difficult. I was met with a lot of giggles and skepticism, and I still am. This is why education and advocacy are so important in the menstrual movement. However, at the same time, that sort of pushback was motivating for me because it showed me that we still had so much work to do, and what I was doing with wanting to de-stigmatize periods was needed. We have to break the stigma and teach people about why menstrual equity is so important.
What has it been like organizing events to raise awareness for menstruation?
So exciting — it’s always really cool to see how quickly people want to join our movement. Often times, the people who come to our events or get involved have never thought about period poverty or menstruation as an issue before we talk to them, and it’s cool to see them convert quickly to being outspoken period warriors.
Why do you think it’s important for young women and young people of color to take control of their narrative when it comes to media?
The fight for gender equality is only truly about equality and equity when we come at it with an intersectional lens. We cannot think about one issue without taking into account all other aspects of identity and backgrounds. Also, fundamentally, if we’re working to affect change or support a group of people, that group of people needs to be represented at the table. Young women and people of color need to be represented in the media because so many of the issues that are front-line topics today affect them.
How did you juggle running a successful NGO and being a student?
It is all about balance. I have learned what I need and what kinds of self-care are important and effective for me in my life. You have to make sure you are making time to give your body what it needs. This can be as simple as getting enough sleep and making sure you eat good food. For me, a big part of my self-care routine is working out. I feel better when I am making sure I find time to exercise on a regular basis.
What advice would you give to our readers looking to change their community for the better?
You really have to go for it. If there is something you want to do, do it! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re doing or you don’t have the resources. Find your people, find a mentor, and ask questions!
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