Meet Nadya Okamoto, The Woman Behind A Trailblazing New Movement

Photograph/Period Movement

Photograph/Period Movement

This week, Defiant Magazine is showcasing a two week long campaign on taboos, and challenging the very existence of them, allowing us to “dare to defy taboos”. There is no one that exemplifies that statement more than the 21-year-old founder and executive director of PERIOD: The Menstrual Movement. PERIOD is a global non-profit that addresses periods and period poverty; through providing period products and starting larger conversations about menstruation. Today, it is the largest youth run NGO for menstrual health.

Nadya’s journey to creating PERIOD, is one that is incredibly inspirational. She used her own life experience, and the discussions she had with women living in poverty as the motivation behind starting a trailblazing 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.

PERIOD strives to end period poverty and period stigma through service, education, and advocacy.”

PERIOD is a movement that we can all get behind. In fact, you can even get involved with the organization as well.

“Start or join a chapter! You can also host a packing parting, and summer internships will be opening soon! We have more information on our website here:
https://www.period.org/get-involved/.”

There is no doubting the fact that periods and menstruation have consistently been a taboo, even considering that periods are an entirely natural process. Nadya, along with PERIOD, are challenging the existence of taboos when it comes to the discussion of periods.

“Talk about periods as NATURAL! Have discussions about periods. The best way to help and get involved in the menstrual movement is to TALK ABOUT PERIODS. Have the book out and in the open - talk about how period products should be a necessity. Tell people period products should be free in all restrooms and made readily available. They should be treated just like toilet paper and paper towels in terms of access.”

From the outside looking in, Nadya’s vast accomplishments seem almost impossible to manage, but she does so successfully. She is currently on leave from Harvard University, manages speaking events all around the country, is the Executive Director of her own organization, Chief Brand Officer of Juv Consulting, and a published author.

Feel unaccomplished yet?

Yet with all that being said, Nadya still makes time for self-care.

“This is extremely important whether you are managing school or work or juggling both. It is vital that you find ways to practice self-care that work for you. This can be as simple as making sure you get enough sleep every night. I like to make sure I always have time to get a good work out in. Listen to your body and give it what it needs whether that is sleep, good food, or exercise. Take the time to do things for you.”

Other young people can follow in Nadya’s footsteps and fight for change in their communities through activism. Take the leap and fight for change!

“I talk about this a lot in my book, Period Power. It starts with finding what drives you and believing in your ability to make change happen, ignoring the self-doubt, and going for it. Find a community of like-minded people who want to help you make an impact. Put yourself out there, find a mentor, ask questions, take the leap!”

Nadya Okamoto embodies what it means to “dare to defy”. So, we call on each and every one of you to defy the taboos and boundaries that are placed on you, and dare to defy.