YOUth In Power - Ameer Abdul
Ameer was born into activism - as a child of refugees, he knew the power of mobilizing others to create change and fighting for progress. He is the Policy Coordinator for PERIOD, an organization that addresses period poverty and stigma through service, education, and advocacy.
Coming from a family of refugees, I was born into activism. My parents, born in a war-torn refugee camp, had no option but to fight for their rights and peacefully protests. Growing up, my parents made sure that every summer between the 5th grade to my senior year in high school, I visited the refugee camp that they lived in and gave back to that community in some way. It helped shape the person I developed into, it gave me a sense of urgency to help others and build a platform to amplify the voices of those being ignored. It allowed me to grow passionate about a number of issue including healthcare, climate change, gun violence, and gender equality.
Last year I joined Period.org, an organization focused on serving periods, educating the masses on issue surrounding menstruation, and combating period stigma. A great friend of mine had recruited me into starting our own chapter at The Ohio State University. In that time, our team fought against the “tampon tax” and worked with the administration at our university to provide menstrual products in 180+ restrooms. It was all people with me on that team that allowed me to grow and learn more about this issue, they gave me the tools and space to step out of my comfort zone and be a part of something bigger than myself. Now I stand as Policy Coordinator for Period.org, working with a team to lead our new campaign for National Period Day on October 19th. This day is focused on rallying in all 50 states to combat the tax on menstrual products and fighting to require that schools, shelters and prisons provide free and healthy menstrual products in their restrooms. It’s been an incredibly electrifying project to be working on and I’m very excited to work with all the great organizers in each respective state.
A big hurdle in addressing period poverty is the fact that there is still a stigma that leads to many people remaining silent on the issue. Ameer talks about why it is important to normalize this discussion and have open conversations about it.
I truly believe that it is the stigma surrounding menstruation that has led us to period poverty. The fact that it is taboo and socially wrong in many spaces to speak about periods has pushed us further and further away from solving its issues.
Menstruation is a normal bodily function; it is essential to the production of life. There is no reason that something so important should be shamed or seen as a taboo to mention.
Normalizing this conversation, being able to comfortably speak about periods in public will allow us to take a step forward and truly combat this crisis that millions of menstruators around the world are facing. This issue is one that we can eliminate, but to do so we need to first be able to speak about it. When we suppress the conversations, and ignore the topic, simply because its “awkward” or “uncomfortable” to speak about, than how can we expect our representatives to pass legislation to help combat the issue? Having a conversation and normalizing the topic is the first step toward ending period poverty.
In order to create long-term change and eradicate period poverty, its critical for non-menstruating allies to be a part of the fight. Ameer believes allyship means doing more listening and learning than speaking, and that more male allies in the fight for period equity can create a lasting impact.
Looking deeper into the issue of period poverty, it’s truly about gender equality. It’s interesting that we consider toilet paper a necessity but not menstrual products. Having more men involved in this movement is essential to making a lasting impact. This is far from only a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue and we must come together on that note. Joining this fight, I was originally unsure how I could speak out in support of this issue but I realized it was about doing more listening than speaking and learning where I could fit in and have the largest impact. Being an ally is more about trying to understand the issue at hand and through speaking with those directly impacted, finding the best way you can positively influence the movement
On October 19th is PERIOD’s National Period Day - a call to action to end the #TamponTax on all period products. Learn more about how you can get involved by leading a rally or joining one!
The National Period Day Campaign is on October 19th and we are still looking for lead organizers in some states! For those who would like to lead a rally or join a rally organizing team, check out Nationalperiodday.org or visit “Period. Inc’ on Facebook and find the rally closest to you! If you prefer to help simply by amplifying the events or coming on as a co-host, reach out to Policy@period.org and we’ll be happy to direct you accordingly, we’re extremely quick to respond!
Ameer defies social norms and constructs everyday and his defiance is evident in his willingness to speak up against injustice and prejudice, while inspiring people along the way.
Social norms have put boundaries on our society, in many different ways. Throughout my life I’ve constantly considered what the right thing to do is, and whether or not it follows the standards or norm of society, I take it upon myself to take action on the issue. Most recently I’ve been deeply involved with Period.org. I constantly speak out publicly about the issues surrounding menstruation, regardless of its social taboo. I’ve been defiant through disregarding typical expectations and norms, but instead, I’ve stuck to my own morals and done (to the best of my ability) what is right in each situation. I do my best to encourage others to do the same, to stand up for the issues they believe in, regardless of what anyone says, regardless of the politics surrounding the issue, but instead to focus on how they can better society and the world around them. It’s defiant in and of itself to speak up against injustice and prejudice, and I’ve made it a goal of mine to do just that every time I come across it and to inspire those around me to do the same.