PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement
Explain your project in details:
Menstruation is steeped in silence and myths, and the stigma surrounding this topic leads to a lack of displayed need for period products. Inaccessibility to period products means that people are forced to adopt unhygienic, detrimental ways of managing their periods, for example, using dirty socks, tissue paper etc. PERIOD started as a personal project, with a mission to make menstrual hygiene products accessible to people with periods. An unexpected demand from homeless shelters all over Portland requesting PERIOD’s services propelled us to the next phase of our journey; we expanded exponentially by creating a network of ‘chapters’ operating in several states in The United States. Taboos surrounding topics of menstruation are rooted in the idea that menstruation is something to be ashamed of. This impairs gender equality, and reinforces discriminatory practices against menstruating populations. Physical barriers to managing menstruation, fortified by the stigma, make periods the number one reason for missing school in developing countries (Femme International). PERIOD is built on three pillars - service, advocacy and education. By providing service, we are ensuring that immediate needs are meant. By education and advocacy, we make sure that young leaders understand that menstruation management is a human right and the implications of its inadequate management. Our volunteers conducted surveys and interviews of those we serve, which allows us to understand the depth of the problem. Connecting with those we serve not only motivates the volunteers but also helps us modify our network so that we can tailor our services to specific needs. We make sure that there is clear communication between the leaders of each of the individual chapters, allowing the chapters to learn from each other and implement their ideas together, therefore rallying the troops of the menstrual movement and creating a new dimension of unified, goal oriented performance.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Over a span of two years, PERIOD has addressed 80000 periods globally. PERIOD’s success is driven by 80 campus chapters and run by over 4000 volunteers. PERIOD started by distributing only 20 care packages a week, and these numbers are a reflection of our growth and as well the need for a service like this. We now address at least 3,000 periods per month. PERIOD measures its impact by the number of periods we serve. Chapters are required to submit monthly impact reports, which are used to record the number of period packages that each chapter distributes in a month. PERIOD also keeps track of the number of community partnerships that are made. Each partnership corresponds to a physical area and demographic, and we compare the number of periods that are addressed in that area to the total number of periods to assess the impact made. For instance, the 2015 point in time study show that there are ~ 6,100 homeless and at-risk menstruators in Portland, Oregon and 49,200 periods that need to be addressed. We have 40 community partners in that area which helped us serve 8,260 periods in 2015 year. Therefore, we have a 20% impact rate in that particular area for 2015. Since its establishment two years ago, PERIOD has experienced exponential growth. The success of PERIOD has been recognized through a number of partnerships.
Sustainability and future plans
PERIOD. currently has over 100+ chapters or local branches around the world and each of these chapters are involved in fundraising activities. Period is a registered charity and is eligible to apply for grants and funding. Recently, we have received a donation of 255,000 period products from TAMPAX. PERIOD is also supported by other local organizations. Furthermore, PERIOD has recently released its own line of merchandise and the profit from its sales are used to provide period products. PERIOD works under three different operational sections: Serve, Redefine and Sell. PERIOD’s SERVE section is primarily made up of the Care Packaging Program that allows us to distribute these care packages to over 80 non-profit partners. A $2 donation allows us to make one care package with all the essential supplies for a cycle. We have partnerships with suppliers such as Tampax, and Maxim Hygiene, Hospeco (tampax), MedLine, DHS, etc. to give us discounted rates. All the products bought and received through donations are stored in our warehouses. We organize packaging events where these products are made into care packages and delivered to our nonprofit partners. Each local chapter follows a similar workflow where by period products are purchased or collected through drives, made into care packages and distributed to homeless shelters in the area that it serves. PERIOD. hopes to increase the number of chapters and have more physical offices in the future. PERIOD. has Regional Directors who will create chapter cohesion and community among existing chapters, and expand our chapter network by researching, contacting, and representing PERIOD in their regions. We currently have chapters in 20 of the 50 states, and our goal is to have a chapter registered in every state by May 2018.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Nadya Okamoto : Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD Nadya Okamoto is the Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD. She is currently a freshman at Harvard College. She founded the organization after her family’s own experience with housing instability, in which she interacted with homeless women who told her of this need for menstrual products. What started as her personal project is now the largest youth-run NGO in women’s health. She has received numerous awards for her service and leadership with PERIOD, and recently signed with a literary agent to write a memoir and book about “The Menstrual Movement.” She is also currently running for office and advocating for youth to get involved in politics. Zeba Khan : President of PERIOD at UBC chapter Zeba is a third year student at the University of British Columbia pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioural Neurosciences. Zeba founded a social enterprise, Cuppy’s at the age of 15. She is the founder and president of PERIOD’s chapter at the University of British Columbia, and the co-founder of World Awareness Initiative, a registered non-profit organisation in Canada. She has received multiple awards and nominations for her commitment towards building a better community, including the International Community Achievement Award (University of British Columbia), Associate Fellowship at The Royal Commonwealth Society, Chancellor’s Scholar and The Daily Star Awards.